article / 27 October 2023

Takeaways from the First-ever Africa Climate Summit: Conservation Technology is Still New(ish)

WILDLABS journeyed through the most significant climate event in Africa this year and delivered a Women in Conservation Technology presentation. Esther Githinji, our East Africa Hub Facilitator discovered that although conservation technology is still new across environmental discussions, it is an equally exciting space drawing interest across the continent. Here are her key takeaways as the week concludes.  

About the Summit

This week, we attended the first-ever Africa Climate Summit that took place from 4-6th Sept concurrently with the Africa Climate Week (4-8th Sept) in Nairobi at the picturesque Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). The ACS brought together diverse stakeholders from the continent and beyond including Heads of African States, financial institutions, the private sector, NGOs and a variety of climate-focused institutions all committed to discussing and consolidating the African narrative and perspective in addressing the climate crisis leading up to COP28 later this year in UAE, with the overarching goal of realising action-based solutions for green growth and a sustainable future for Africa. 

Esther Githinji attending the Africa Climate Summit at the KICC, Nairobi

Now, anyone you'll talk to who attended the ACS will mention the overarching message heavily focused on climate finance and investment. This was a recurring theme across high-level ACS dialogues, as well as ACW side event panel discussions. Looking closely at the facts, you identify why this was such a key focus area for African nations. According to research, the continent is significantly affected by the impacts of climate change despite contributing minimally to the emission of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, African nations receive only 12% of the financing they require to mitigate these impacts. 

No country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action. 

                                                       - Nairobi Declaration Document

Consequently, the Summit concluded with the adoption of the 'Nairobi Declaration' by African leaders which you can find attached below which grounds the common African position on the global climate agenda ahead of COP28 in November. It urges for a global financial reform to give African nations a fairer playing field to gain better access for green investment and sustainable growth. The commitments made by diverse players at the Summit totaled to USD 26 Billion. Please find attached below a list of commitments made by governments, donors, multilateral institutions, etc during the Summit. NB: This list may not be entirely exhaustive. 

WILDLABS Involvement

As the Conservation Technology Facilitator for WILDLABS 1st regional hub in East Africa, I was glad to represent our community during the week at both ACS and ACW and deliver a presentation at the First Lady's Pavilion. This presentation focused on the massive opportunity for women in conservation technology mitigating climate impacts on nature and innovating novel solutions to protect and preserve our wildlife using various technologies. 

WILDLABS Women in Conservation Technology, First Lady's Pavilion, Africa Climate Summit Event Poster
Esther Githinji presenting at the First Lady's Pavilion, Africa Climate Summit, KICC, Nairobi

At WILDLABS, we are committed to empowering emerging female conservationists through our Women in Conservation Technology Programme that equips women with the foundational knowledge to advance their careers in conservation technology and become part of a supportive network of women working in this space across their region. We were thrilled to unpack this important discussion and appreciated connecting with players enthusiastic about our work.

Conservation Technology

Now to the insights for our conservation technology community! 

Watch our first Debrief Episode below, where I sit down with our Executive Manager, Stephanie O'Donnell, to unpack the Africa Climate Summit and what it meant for conservation technology's role in addressing climate and conservation related challenges across the African continent. I go on to explain how attending the first-ever Africa Climate Summit reinforced the need for conservation technology to be included in global climate discourse.


I've heard of clean-tech, agri-tech but not conservation-tech...

What exactly is conservation technology if you don't mind me asking?

These were some of the responses I received when introducing conservation technology and our work here at WILDLABS to other attendees at the ACS and ACW. Now although there was plenty to see in relation to climate technology such as the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee (TEC) dialogue on Exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action in Africa, conservation tech was a bit less familiar among the climate-focused attendees. Despite the lack of awareness of our emerging space, there was a genuine interest and curiosity among everyone I spoke with including financial institutions, traditional conservancies, the public and private sector. There were plenty of 'ooohsss', 'aaaahhhss' and 'woowwss'.

In my experience at the ACS, I realised that what really helped explain conservation technology was through the use of real-world examples and the solutions being applied in actual natural landscapes to solve specific conservation-related challenges that are sometimes caused by climate-related challenges as well. Through describing the type of tech being used, be it Artificial Intelligence, GIS, Earth Observation and Satellite technology, majority of people understood conservation tech, related with or even mentioned working with similar technologies. 

Examples of the applicability of Conservation Technology across East Africa by Digital Earth Africa

This experience really reinforced for me the need for anyone in conservation technology to communicate it, showcase it and if possible scream it from the rooftops to help the wider environment-focused community to take notice and better engage with us through collaborations and knowledge exchange to bolster efforts. I believe the conservation technology community has a wealth of knowledge and experience surrounding cross sectoral intersections, innovation and the appropriate use of the right tech to solve problems affecting our natural world that can be applicable across the board if shared. I also found a whole added appreciation for our annual #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge as it's a great way to show the world how you are using tech to protect our world's wildlife and biodiversity. 

WILDLABS 8th Annual #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge Poster

That's why this community exists and is so important for the awareness and growth of conservation technology across the globe. Based on this understanding, I'd love to encourage you all to share the conservation technology you are working on, developing, adopting, researching, advancing, financing, supporting, collaborating and educating others on. Feel inspired to post articles and links to you or your organisation's work, invite us to your events and prompt insightful discourse within and outside our community. By all means let the conversation continue! #tech4wildlife

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