Nairobi, Kenya – African countries are among the hardest hit by the climate crisis which continues to exacerbate protracted conflicts, perennial hunger and drought, and widening inequalities as well as external debt, among others. In a region that has been faced with increasing climate challenges and complex trade dynamics, conversations on the nexus of trade and climate are paramount.

IBON Africa, thus, conducted a workshop on the nexus of trade and climate with a focus on the agricultural sector.  The workshop explored the linkages of trade and climate in the African context, the potential implications of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), CSO involvement in the adoption and implementation of the said framework, and held a policy dialogue on climate action. The workshop was held on August 17-18, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. Eighteen representatives from civil society organisations in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia attended the two-day workshop.

The conversations on the nexus of trade and climate highlighted issues such as export-oriented food production, the detrimental effects of pesticides and herbicides, carbon trading, inequality exacerbated by trade policies, the exploitation of Africa’s raw materials and natural resources mainly through mining, and the historical inequalities perpetuated by global trade imbalances. The discussion further exposed issues of punitive policies, the manipulation of seed systems, and the alarming practice of data mining. These discussions emphasised the urgent need for holistic, people-centered approaches to harmonise trade and climate actions.

Participants engaged passionately in the discussions regarding AfCFTA, an ambitious initiative of the African Union which is envisioned as a tool for economic integration and promotion of intra-African trade. However, civil society organisations are raising concerns over their exclusion, trade injustice and plunder of natural resources in regards to the adoption and implementation of the AfCFTA.

IBON Africa Chairperson, Gertrude Kenyangi, who is also the Executive Director of Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN) based in Uganda expressed concerns over potential exploitation by multinational corporations and developed countries. “The AfCFTA is being touted as the policy that will bring about economic development in Africa. While the AfCFTA’s goal is to increase trade among African countries is laudable, the dominant framework behind AfCFTA foreshadows a potential failure.” 

Participants also stressed the importance of building CSO capacity to ensure that they are able to participate effectively in monitoring governments throughout the implementation of the AfCFTA. According to Ivan Enrile, Programme Manager of IBON International, “IBON International commits to support raising the capacity of CSOs through our programmes such as  climate justice and trade and investment so that CSOs can engage meaningfully in development processes.” 

On the second day, IBON Africa invited Dr. Anne Nyatichi Omambia, Deputy Director of Programmes and Partnerships at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to talk about the Kenyan government’s position on national environmental matters, including the Climate Change Amendment Bill, and how they engage civil society organisations in the country. In this discussion, the issue of carbon markets emerged, attracting divergent perspectives. Concerns were raised about large corporations driving carbon offset initiatives, leading to the privatisation of title deeds and predatory trade terms. While carbon markets hold potential, they should not suppress equity and social justice, particularly in the context of vulnerable communities. 

Dr. Omambia stated that  the Climate Change Amendment Bill 2023 provides provisions of the Paris Agreement on carbon trading. “Throughout the production processes and value chains, there is a need to not only build sustainability but also reduce the carbon footprints so as to reduce the negative impacts of climate change”. 

Carolina Muturi, Coordinator of IBON Africa, also raised concerns over the corporate capture of the climate agenda and the greenwashing by multinationals urging CSOs present to be vigilant and cautious about the imposition of the carbon trading in the region. “We need to promote respecting the environment, which means rejection of market mechanisms that impose the cash nexus on ecological priorities. The needs of the planet and its people must take precedence over the push for growth and profits.”

Moreover, ahead of COP28, civil society shared their demands with Dr. Omambia. Recommendations include: 

  • Developed nations should fully deliver the USD 100 billion Paris Agreement goal
  • Adaptation finance should be scaled up based on developing countries’ needs and contexts
  • Governments, especially those in the Global North, must ensure inclusive access to adaptation funds down to the local level in accordance with the principles of locally-led adaptation
  • Governments, especially those in the Global North, must provide new and additional finance for addressing loss and damage, noting that comprehensive efforts are needed in averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage
  • Efforts to improve local leadership and access to climate finance should also be included in localisation efforts

The workshop’s fruitful discussions concluded in a consensus that CSOs must play a proactive role in pushing for their involvement in crucial meetings and dialogues on the trade and climate agenda of Africa. The need for capacity-building, engagement, and leveraging existing partnerships were highlighted as key strategies for ensuring that  peoples’ voices are heard and in advancing a people-centered trade and climate action across Africa.


Press Contact: Caroline Muturi, IBON Africa Coordinator
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