Limited reference to biodiversity and nature in the Nairobi Declaration, disappointing – IFAW

The Declaration was light on specifics when it came to the question of how to address the nature finance gap, which currently stands at $700 billion per year, an official said.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe (CZ) — The Africa Climate Summit (ACS) ended in Nairobi this week with a ‘Nairobi Declaration’ in which nations acknowledged the value of nature and biodiversity, as vital for the fight against climate change in Africa.

IFAW said it was disappointed by the limited reference to biodiversity and nature in the Declaration’s Call to Action.

“While African leaders have set expectations high for the reform of the international financial systems that restrict their ability to raise funds to support climate-resilient development, the Declaration was light on specifics when it came to the question of how to address the nature finance gap – which currently stands at $700 billion per year,” said Simon Addison, IFAW Climate Advisor.

“Nations were also silent on how they intend to honour their commitments to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which they signed in December.

“Achieving GBF targets like the need to protect and restore at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and marine and coastal ecosystems, and to minimise the impact of climate change on biodiversity and increasing its resilience will only help African nations to deliver their ambitions laid out in this Declaration,” Addison added.

Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW, said the Nairobi Declaration announcement underscored biodiversity’s significance to arresting climate change.

“The ACS decision is important. It commits members to strengthen their actions to halt and reverse biodiversity ‎loss, deforestation, and desertification and restore degraded land.

Recognising the importance ‎of these efforts is a vital step in the right direction,” said Downes, who was speaking from Nairobi.

IFAW was among the few conservation organisations represented at the ACS, where side events paid limited attention to the role of nature and biodiversity in relieving the impacts of climate change.

“The value of ‎nature-based solutions as one of the ways to mitigate the climate crisis cannot be underestimated. We cannot afford to ‎lament what has been lost; we must prioritise protecting what remains and actively seek ways to rectify the environmental damage so far inflicted upon our planet,” said the conservationist.

Simon, said IFAW was pleased with the firm demand by African leaders that the global community must reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement as a first priority.

“Nations also continue to acknowledge the need for rich countries to implement the Loss and Damage Facility – these are both critical actions that rich countries need to take to safeguard nature and biodiversity and protect vulnerable communities from the worst impacts of climate change,” said Addison.

IFAW said the first-ever ACS was largely a success for nature and biodiversity. It remained committed to its partnerships with countries in East and Southern Africa in helping them meet their conservation goals

Meanwhile African countries, facing mounting debt costs and a dearth of funds, have called for a complete overhaul of the global financial architecture, adding to pressure on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to unlock investment and climate finance.

The declaration called for “concrete action” on reforms that lead to “a new financing architecture that is responsive to Africa’s needs”, including debt restructuring and relief.

William Ruto, Kenya’s President said it was time to overhaul global financial systems that “perpetually place African nations on the back foot”.

“We demand a fair playing ground for our countries to access the investment needed to unlock the potential and translate it into opportunities,” he said.

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