Current Affairs

William Ruto: The man with a climate action plan

William Ruto: The man with a climate action plan
  • PublishedMay 12, 2023

In 2007, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation launched their leadership prize in Kenya. At that time, the skill set for African leaders was very different. Good governance, democracy, and human rights were the main priorities, alongside development. Climate change was not yet a big part of the conversation.

Last month, at a Mo Ibrahim Foundation event in Nairobi, the conversation was quite different. Climate change was a central topic of discussion, and it was clear that William Ruto, the president of Kenya, was particularly passionate about combating it. In a candid conversation with Mo Ibrahim, Ruto highlighted the urgent need for global climate investment, and the lack of African voices at global climate talks.

President Ruto stressed the fact that African nations are the least responsible for climate change but are disproportionately affected by its consequences. Widespread drought, floods, wildfires, biodiversity loss, land degradation, and desertification have resulted in food insecurity, displacement, poverty, and conflicts across the continent. He emphasized that the impact of climate change on Africa is severe and urgent and requires immediate collective action.

Billionaire Mo Ibrahim discusses climate change with William Ruto, President of Kenya at the Ibrahim Governance Weekend from the 28-30 April 2023.

One of Ruto’s key points was the lack of investment for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Africa. Despite the fact that African nations are among the most vulnerable to its effects, they receive a disproportionately small amount of global climate finance compared to other regions. Ruto called for the situation to be rectified, emphasizing that wealthy nations need to support African countries in their climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

Ruto also drew attention to the lack of African voices at global discussions on climate change. He emphasized that African countries must be represented at major climate events and platforms. Such participation can help to raise awareness of the urgency of the situation in Africa and ensure that African perspectives are fully considered in global climate change discussions.

A global issue of this magnitude requires precisely a man of his generation to push it forward. Ruto is part of a new breed of African leaders who are focused on sustainable development and environmental conservation, recognizing that these issues are crucial for the future development of the continent. This generation of leaders is aware that Africa’s future depends on how well the continent manages its natural resources and environment.

Ruto has also been a vocal advocate for youth empowerment, education, and employment, recognizing that youth are the backbone of Africa’s future. He has been involved in initiatives aimed at promoting smart agriculture and environmental sustainability. His commitment to sustainability has been recognized globally, and he has been invited to speak at several high-profile events, such as the Climate Action Summit in New York.

Ruto’s conviction on climate change is particularly significant given the work of the late Wangari Maathai, who was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on environmental sustainability and empowering women. Maathai’s legacy looms large, and It is evident that Ruto sees the benefit of elevating the environmental conservation and sustainability agenda as a significant imperative for Africa.

Earlier in the week, at an event arranged by Ellen Sirleaf, the former President of Liberia and a 2017 Ibrahim Prize Laureate, Joyce Banda was emotional as she talked about the climate destruction in Malawi. Her experience highlighted the urgent need for action to address climate change on a global scale. The devastation and loss of life that Malawi is witnessing due to climate change is a warning to the rest of the world that urgent action is due.

President Ruto is the right candidate to galvanize African leadership in tackling climate change. His commitment to sustainability, coupled with his vocal advocacy on the issue, makes him an influential African leader on the global stage. Africa has a unique role to play in the global fight against climate change, and Ruto is making sure that Africans have a seat at the table.

The climate crisis is one of the most significant issues of our time, and it requires collective action. African leaders led by President Ruto must join hands and work collaboratively with global climate change actors to combat the pressing challenge of climate change. The global community also needs to support Africa in its efforts to combat climate change by providing financial assistance and technology transfer. Together, we can create a brighter, greener, and more prosperous future for Africa and the world. 

Written By
Gina Din-Kariuki

Gina Din Kariuki founded communications consultancy Gina Din Corporate Communications which she later sold to Edelman. She has published a memoir entitled Daughter of Africa – An Autobiography.

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