SSN’s side events at Africa Climate Week

SouthSouthNorth (SSN) hosted a number of programmatic events during Africa Climate Week (ACW) from 4 to 8 September 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, hosted by the Government of Kenya. 


ACW, an annual event that forms part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC’s) four Regional Climate Weeks, took place alongside the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) this year, from 4 to 8 September. The purpose of the Regional Climate Weeks is to provide a platform for governments and non-governmental organisations to discuss regional-specific climate change challenges and solutions, and build momentum ahead of the the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP28). For a full account of ACW and ACS from SSN’s perspective, please visit this news post


Below, we reflect on the events hosted by our programmes, the African Climate Action Partnership (AfCAP), Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and Voice for Just Climate Action (VCA) during ACW.  


AfCAP events


Supporting food security through low emissions long-term strategies


This session took place on Wednesday, 6 September, at 15:30-16:30 EAT as part of Track 3: Land, ocean, food & water, and was hosted by the AfCAP Secretariat, and co-hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Coalition of Action 4 Soil Health (CA4$H), Global Methane Hub (GMH) and UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centres (RCC)


The session explored mitigation options that have co-benefits for adaptation and enhancing the resilience of food systems. By examining two key agricultural sectors, namely the livestock and paddy rice sectors, the session highlighted exemplary practices that contribute to emissions reduction and increased resilience.


We heard from Claudia Aardt (ILRI) on the importance of using climate-smart livestock practices in navigating the impending challenges of climate change in Africa, as they reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase productivity, improve food security, and enable adaptation to climate change. Elliott Dossou-Yovo (Africa Rice) also mentioned that we need to develop business models that link the scaling of climate-smart technologies with job creation for women and youths in Africa. 


Lawrence Mashungu (UNFCCC’s RCC East Africa) highlighted the importance of food systems in African economies, supporting the inclusion of agriculture in countries’ Long Term Strategies (LTS) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Bernard Kimoro (Kenya State Department for Livestock) and Irene Chekwotin (Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment) mentioned that the Kenyan and Ugandan governments are developing LTSs for their agricultural sectors, to align with their national LTSs. However, Ermias Betemariam (CA4$H) noted that, while countries agree that agriculture is an important aspect of national planning, some still exclude this sector from their NDCs due to a lack of capacity that would be required to report on progress continuously (since NDCs constitute binding commitments). Kimoro also mentioned, from experience, that developing sectoral LTSs require adequate capacity, finance, and a clear national LTS with which to align.


To read more about this session on the AfCAP website


Exploring models for public-private collaboration in clean energy access


This session took place on Friday, 8 September, at 15:00-16:00 EAT as part of Track 1: Energy systems & industry, and was hosted by the AfCAP Secretariat, and co-hosted by the Camco, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Growing Government Engagement in Energy Access (GGEEA) and African Association for Rural Electrification (CLUB-ER).

The session focused on the key enabling mechanisms that facilitate mini-grid deployment, speaking to the challenges and successes experienced by both the private and public sectors in aligning priorities and actions. The discussion concluded by exploring options for improved collaboration, specifically how the private sector can act as an implementation partner in realising local governments’ NDC targets.


Josh Ogada (SSN) opened the session by framing the importance of clean and renewable mini-grids in Africa, where energy access is still extremely limited, especially in rural contexts. Our panellists agreed that public-private partnerships are essential to support mini-grids on our road to clean, universal energy access.


Steven Payma (Rural Renewable Energy Agency [RREA], Liberia) suggested unbundling the national energy utility and opening the sector to independent power producers. Ieva Indriunaite (Camco) noted that governments should view mini-grid developers as partners, not as competitors, since the private sector can mobilise solutions quickly, and the solutions can be planned in a way that they can be integrated into national grids and taken over by the public sector at a later stage.


Indriunaite also noted that enabling the large-scale deployment of mini-grids requires blended finance, from public and private sectors, and that attracting private sector funding requires regulatory frameworks that are clear, transparent and implemented in a timely manner to derisk financing. Aaron Leopold (EnerGrow) also highlighted micro-financing as an important aspect, as well as engaging with consumers to understand what they need in their localised context to ensure large-scale uptake and feasibility. Supporting this, Eng. Maxwell Ngala (Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy, Kenya [REREC]) noted that it is also important to understand the available technologies in order to determine which is/are most suitable for the context to meet the needs of the local community. 


Finally, discussions between panel members highlighted the need to make relevant, local data accessible to public and private users to enable planning for mini-grids in Africa.


Read more about the session on the AfCAP website.


CDKN events


Are small grant funding mechanisms effectively supporting locally-led adaptation? (Invitation-only event)


This session took place on Thursday, 7 September, at 07:00-08:00 EAT on the sidelines of ACW, and was hosted by the CDKN, and co-hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Ecosystem-based Adaptation Fund


This brought together existing and upcoming small grant funding mechanisms and grantees, and explored the challenges and opportunities of the small-scale grant-making space through interactive exchanges between funders and grantees. 


More information on this breakfast discussion is available in this CDKN Feature.  


Understanding maladaptation in Africa: Informing best practice, policy and investment


This session took place on Tuesday, 5 September, at 07:00-08:00 EAT as part of Track 4: Societies, health, livelihoods and economies, and was hosted by the CDKN, and co-hosted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Africa Group of Negotiator Experts Support (AGNES)


The session explored the issue of maladaptation, as highlighted in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), where ill-suited adaptation interventions produce unintended negative outcomes or exacerbate existing societal and ecological challenges, adversely affecting marginalised and vulnerable groups in particular. The session was presented through role-play and discussions to provide clear examples of how maladaptation can come about and its potential consequences.  


Dr Portia Adade Williams (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] Science and Technology Policy Research Institute [STEPRI]) expanded on some of the negative outcomes of maladaptation, including economic cost, increased vulnerability, increased inequality, risk transfer, environmental degradation, and conflict. She went on to explain that maladaptation risk can be reduced through integrated planning, cross-disciplinary thinking, climate security sensitive intervention, policy-relevant evidence, sufficient financing, fit-for-purpose monitoring and evaluation, awareness, and co-production throughout project lifecycles. Our role-playing actors provided clear examples of how maladaptation can be avoided by considering local contexts, including indigenous communities’ insights, through truly inclusive engagement processes.


Understanding intersectionality in climate actions: An interactive game


This session took place on Wednesday, 6 September, at 14:45-15:15 EAT as part of Track 4: Societies, health, livelihoods and economies, and was hosted by the CDKN. 


The session used CDKN’s originally developed “Climate and Society” interactive game to showcase how people with different social, economic, cultural and physical statuses and attributes, including their gender roles and relations, interact with and contribute to their climate vulnerability and risk, and how their ability to contribute to disaster risk reduction, adaptation and climate-resilient development is affected by these attributes.


Six volunteers were given character cards, outlining a persona and context, allowing them to step into someone else’s shoes for the given scenario. These volunteers were called onto the stage and, through a role-playing exercise, showed us different perspectives on how climate change impacts affect people of different ages, genders and lines of work. By “walking in other people’s shoes” and discussing the vulnerabilities, risks, and capacities they experienced, our volunteers allowed the audience to empathise with different perspectives and experiences.


The “Climate and Society” interactive game has been developed for 3 contexts – Ethiopia, India and Ecuador – and can be downloaded from the CDKN website. The team is currently working on expanding the scenarios to more regions. 


Ecosystem-based approaches for just climate action in African cities


This session took place on Friday, 8 September, at 09:00-10:00 EAT as part of Track 2: Cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure and transport, and was hosted by the CDKN with the World Resources Institute (WRI), ICLEI Africa and PlanAdapt.


By promoting dialogue between thought leaders, practitioners, activists and community organisers, the session highlighted the importance of equitable nature-based solutions (NbS) and approaches as a means to address climate challenges. The session explored innovative strategies that empower communities, protect vulnerable populations, and ensure that the benefits of climate resilience are shared equitably.


Jessica Troni (United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP]) opened the session with a reminder of Africa’s rapid urbanisation and the need for cities to adapt to climate change and take the lead as agents of change.  


Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar (PlanAdapt) noted that finding solutions and building the necessary capacities, especially in urban areas, requires collaborative efforts, for example, in the form of communities of practice. Bongiwe Simka (Urban Nature and Nature-based Solutions, ICLEI Africa) also highlighted the importance of a people-centred approach, which means being intentional about advancing gender, equity and social inclusion and bringing everyone along when designing and implementing NbS in African cities. Prince Ansah (CDKN, SSN) provided an example of how young people are being engaged in Ghana, and the use of technology and NbS are being encouraged, to find locally relevant solutions for climate change impacts, such as flooding. Simon Thuo (Alliance for Global Water Adaptation [AGWA]) also shared an example of how AGWA, a global community of practice that promotes EbA co-benefits, has used water as an entry point for motivating urban climate resilience in Somalia and Egypt through its Water Tracker


Rory Hunter (Cities4Forests and WRI Natural Infrastructure Initiative) mentioned the need for scaled-up financing of EbA in urban contexts to address urban heating and flooding, and long-term monitoring to capture broader impacts of NbS, such as social and biodiversity benefits. While Troni highlighted the funding provided by UNEP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for EbA projects through the “Global EbA Fund”, PlanAdapt noted that applying for this finance can be challenging, and capacity-building might help make funding more accessible.


Lastly, Fatema Rajabali (CDKN, SSN) highlighted the importance of knowledge brokering to advance just and equitable EbA for building resilience in African cities.


More information on this event is available in this CDKN Feature.


VCA events


Locally-Led Restoration Initiatives in Building Resilient Communities for People, Nature, and Businesses


This session took place on Tuesday, 5 September, at 11:45-12:15 EAT as part of Track 4: Societies, health, livelihoods and economies, and was hosted by VCA Alliance partner World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Zambia, North Africa (Tunisia) and Kenya, with SSN.


During the session, the VCA Alliance Members showcased their locally-led restoration initiatives.


WWF Zambia shared the initiative by rural community champion, Mrs Mayer, around the Nsongwe River to desilt the river beds, stop agriculture activities along the river bank, and plant indigenous trees, which restored groundwater springs, leading to the restoration of vegetation and attraction of wildlife.


WWF Tunisia and Kenya highlighted restoration initiatives by La Ruche and Global Nature Conservation to promote indigenous tree restoration of the Oasis maritime (traditional palm trees) in the Kerkennah archipelago off the East coast, and in degraded landscapes of Kenya.


More information on this event can be found in this VCA News post


Other events that VCA participated in


SSN’s partner organisations hosted additional VCA events, as listed below. Updates on these events will be published on the VCA website in due course.