The recent Africa Climate Summit, jointly convened by the African Union and the Government of Kenya, served as a rallying point for leaders and stakeholders from across the continent to tackle the significant challenges presented by climate change.
The theme of the event was “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the world.”
One key takeaway from this summit is the recognition that construction, among other factors, plays a significant role in climate change and that it must be a part of the solution.
Construction is undeniably intertwined with climate change, with its practices impacting the environment through the emission of greenhouse gasses. This is due to its energy-intensive processes involving machinery, transportation, and manufacturing of building materials, contributing to global warming and climate change.
At the summit that was held during Africa Climate Week, there were highlights of how construction is affecting the climate. The major issues are:
The construction sector consumes substantial amounts of energy, primarily derived from fossil fuels. This energy use contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, a primary driver of climate change.
The extraction, production, and transportation of construction materials are energy-intensive processes that release greenhouse gases. The environmental impact of building materials, such as cement and steel, must be carefully considered. Sustainable alternatives and practices can reduce the carbon footprint of construction projects.
Construction generates a significant volume of waste, which, when not properly managed, can lead to the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from landfills.
Affordable Housing and Climate Action
One of the notable initiatives discussed at the summit was the Affordable Housing agenda. This initiative recognizes that the private sector has a crucial role to play in addressing climate change through the construction industry. It does so by:
- Planned Land Use:
Promoting planned land use is a fundamental aspect of the affordable housing agenda. Proper land-use planning can prevent deforestation and habitat destruction, both of which contribute to climate change.
- Sustainable Practices:
Encouraging sustainable building practices, including the use of eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient designs, is essential to reduce the carbon footprint of construction projects.
The Africa Climate Summit 2023, held during Africa Climate Week, provided a platform for addressing several critical lessons and issues, including:
Regional Collaboration: The summit highlighted the importance of regional collaboration among African nations, regional organizations, and international partners to tackle climate change collectively.
Innovation and Finance: Innovative financing mechanisms and investments were a key focus. Securing funding commitments is essential for implementing climate projects effectively.
Nature-Based Solutions: The summit underscored the significance of nature-based solutions, such as reforestation and conservation, in mitigating climate change and building resilience.
Adaptation Strategies: Strategies for building resilience and adapting to climate impacts were discussed extensively, recognizing that climate change is already affecting communities across the continent.
In his speech, H.E President William Samoei Ruto said that “Climate action is not a Global North issue or a Global South issue. It is our collective challenge, and it affects all of us. We need to come together to find common, global solutions.”
The Africa Climate Summit 2023 demonstrated the urgency of addressing climate change in Africa and the critical role that construction plays in this endeavor.
As lessons and issues from the summit continue to shape climate action in Africa, there is a growing recognition that addressing climate change is not just an environmental imperative but also an opportunity for sustainable development, economic growth, and improved quality of life for all Africans.