Kenya loses rights to host fund in Nairobi

Climate change

A photo of Nairobi City. 

Photo credit: File

What you need to know:

  • The country describes the decision as "very wrong and unfortunate."
  • “This is a big loss for Kenya; it is about climate vulnerability in loss and damage, and the institution that is supposed to carry out the assessment should be sensitive to where it is located and who its clients are.”

Kenya has opposed the decision by the Santiago Network advisory board, which saw government climate negotiators from mainly developed countries settled on Geneva, instead of Nairobi, as the headquarters of the loss and damage hub.
The country describes the decision as "very wrong and unfortunate."
According to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change(UNFCCC), in January this year, Nairobi was identified as the optimal location for the Santiago network secretariat head office based on the outcome analysis and considering all criteria relevant to location assessment.

Read: Explainer: The Loss and Damage Fund
The official report by UNOPS and UNDRR highlighted that "Using the assessment approach, locations that did not meet one or more minimum requirements were dropped, leaving the following five locations for further consideration: Addis Ababa(Ethiopia), Bonn (Germany), Brussels (Belgium), Geneva (Switzerland) and Nairobi (Kenya)."
Since COP28 last year in Dubai, this has been a thorny issue that was about to disallow the operationalisation of the Network. Therefore, it was deferred to the advisory board to resolve this issue based on the report, which identified Nairobi as the most suitable location for the head office.  
The role of the Santiago Network secretariat is to manage the Network's day-to-day operations, which include building and managing the Network of member organisations, bodies, and experts (OBNEs). It also ensures the coordination and collaboration of the Santiago network's work with relevant UNFCCC-constituted bodies.
Kenya now says it will contest the decision as it goes against the assessment of the entity's host institutions, namely The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the UN Office for Disaster and Risk Reduction(UNDRR).
"This is a big loss for Kenya; it is about climate vulnerability in loss and damage, and the institution that is supposed to carry out the assessment should be sensitive to where it is located and who its clients are. Without a doubt, the clients are in the global south, not global north," Ali Mohammed, the special envoy on Climate Change at the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya, told

Read: Why ‘Loss and Damage’ was a big issue at COP27
"The headquarters requires close proximity to client states, which are the most impacted by the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. The most vulnerable client is Africa, so from that point of view alone, it is important that this institution is hosted in the global south," Ali said.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance(PACJA) agrees with Kenya and is "gravely concerned" that the advisory board blatantly and contemptuously ignored recommendations from UNOPS-UNDRR and selected Geneva, the third-ranked candidate in the analysis.
Speaking to Nation.Africa, in a telephone interview, Dr Mithika Mwenda, the executive director of PACJA, said that they are aggrieved that the hosting rights for a platform that embodies the struggles of the communities at the frontline of the climate crisis has been unjustly snatched from a third-world country.
"We are conscious of the power imbalance in the loss and damage fund's board as currently constituted with developed countries potentially using their monetary and material advantage to ostensibly render developing country representative's mere decorations on the board.

Climate science shows that Africa will be impacted by climate change under all mitigation scenarios, setting a stage for agitation for accelerated adaptation and response measures on loss and damage actions to enable communities at the frontline of the crisis to cope with the impacts of climate change," he pointed out.
Loss and Damage were one of Africa's most significant pain points for at least 30 years during climate talks until COP 27 finally delivered a fund in 2022. But the fund remains empty mainly because financing pledges remain unfulfilled.

Read: Loss and Damage Fund: What’s at stake at COP 28
"We are disappointed by paltry pledges of USD700 million to the loss and damage fund, which are fatally insufficient to meet the recovery responses to a single episode of climate disaster such as that caused by Cyclone Freddy in Malawi, estimated at USD900 million," the executive director said.
PACJA terms the decision by the advisory body as "null and void."
"We condemn in the strongest terms possible, the apparent subversion of the advisory board's procedures and call upon appointing authorities, especially those from Africa and other developing countries, to investigate the possibility of collusion, carrot-dangling, and manipulation by industrialised countries. To regain the lost glory, the Advisory Board should, with immediate effect, reverse their ill-intentioned decision and adopt the recommendations from UNOPS-UNDRR by unanimously picking Nairobi as the headquarters," PACJA said in an official statement.  

Read: Africa Climate Summit: A hit and miss affair.
"We call on the Chair of the Committee of the Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), President William Ruto, and the Chair of AGN to pronounce themselves and expeditiously compel the advisory board to respect and adopt the recommendations of UNOPS-UNDRR," Mr Mithika said.
The president's advisor, the newly elected chairman of the African Group of Negotiators, said the president will comment later.
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