Global North voices dominate the Africa Climate Summit in a win for big Agribusiness

Participants on the stage of the Africa Climate Summit 2023, during its opening ceremony.
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Between the 4 and 6 September, Kenya and the African Union Commission (AUC) are hosting the 2023 Africa Climate Summit. African heads of state, world leaders, and private sector and non-profit organisations are convening the two-day meeting to discuss Africa’s green energy transition.

Ostensibly, the event has stated that it aims to:

catalyse actions and solutions for climate change in Africa by providing a platform to deliberate on the nexus between climate change, Africa’s development reality, and the need to push for increased investment in climate action globally, and specifically in Africa.

However, the corporate capture of the key African climate event by the Global North exposes the neo-colonialism at the heart of the summit’s climate “solutions”.

In part one of this two-part article, the Canary will explore how Global North corporations and their philanthropic fronts have pushed for climate solutions that bolster the bottom line for big agribusiness.

Global North interests overrun the agenda

Global North private sector majors and their philanthropic front foundations have burrowed their way into all aspects of the climate summit.

Climate justice advocate Mohamed Adow has highlighted that the Global North has co-opted the summit’s events. Adow is director of energy and climate at Nairobi-based thinktank Power Shift Africa. Writing for Context News, he pointed out that:

Read on...

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Of the 93 side events taking place at the summit, only 35 are led by African organisations. Nearly two-thirds of them are being run by Global North entities.

For instance, the summit lists both the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as partners. As the Canary’s Tracy Keeling has previously reported, both are financial backers of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Incidentally, the event additionally hosts AGRA itself as a technical partner.

AGRA purports to provide solutions to Africa’s climate-exarcerbated food crisis. Specifically, it has offered up what it terms “climate-smart” technology, such as drought- and disease-resistant seeds.

However, an African network of food sovereignty advocates has consistently called out AGRA, arguing that its:

agenda of “market-led technology adoption” leans heavily towards the industrialisation of African food systems. With over $500 million in grants, AGRA incentivises the adoption of Green Revolution technologies predominantly produced by global corporations.

In other words, as the Canary previously reported, far from delivering concrete action on the climate crisis, the non-profit has:

cemented the grip of big agribusiness and agritech across the African continent.

Naturally, these chemical-laden ‘climate-smart’ solutions also come with a free side of ecological destruction, such as by reducing farmers’ autonomy:

making them reliant on artificial inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides supplied by corporations.

More ‘climate-smart’ co-option

Of course, AGRA is just the tip of the iceberg. Significantly, another major proponent of ‘climate-smart’ agricultural innovations is presenting its:

agenda for action that delivers the technologies and practices that will transform African agriculture for a more resilient and food secure future in a changing climate.

The culprit in question is the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The Canary identified CGIAR as a major multi-stakeholder initiative that has pushed the interests of the private sector at another international summit – the UN Food Systems Summit.

CGIAR is funded by multiple governments, international development institutions, and UN agencies. Much like AGRA, a few notable private sector foundations also finance its work. These include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Syngenta Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

Corporate capture of climate action

It figures that major food and fertiliser companies would fund this ‘climate-smart’ technology agenda in Africa. Invariably, where new profits flow, big agribusiness follows.

All this points to Global North corporations’ burgeoning rush to capitalise on Africa’s climate resources. Evidently, the corporate capture of Africa’s climate action is already well underway.

Next, in part two of this article, the Canary will further explore the Global North non-profit partners participating in the climate summit. In particular, we will highlight how their presence signals a push for the further financialisation of nature in the service of supposed climate action.

Feature image via African Union/Youtube screengrab. 

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