Date: November 29, 2023 Type: Country:

Africa: Leaders’ unified voice at COP28 must prioritise human rights and climate justice

African leaders attending this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC must avoid mistakes made during the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, where leaders adopted the Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action (Nairobi Declaration), which in many ways failed to effectively prioritise human rights and climate justice for the continent, Amnesty International said today. 

“While the Nairobi Declaration is a unified voice aimed at addressing Africa’s climate challenges, some of its proposals do not effectively combat the emissions that cause climate change or provide adequate support to those negatively affected by global warming,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. 

The Nairobi Declaration highlights the need for global financial reforms and swift operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund agreed at COP27. The Fund aims to help countries access resources to help aid their recovery from climate-related disasters, such as droughts, cyclones, and floods. 

“The increasing intensity of droughts and floods, as well as rising sea-levels, has led to massive human rights violations on the continent. Despite this, African leaders failed to anchor the Nairobi Declaration firmly on human rights principles to both address and protect human rights as the climate changes,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. 

Some of the proposals in the Nairobi Declaration, such as those addressing carbon markets, have in the past resulted in negative outcomes for vulnerable communities. Carbon markets have led to serious human rights violations, including cases of forced evictions in Africa, when communities have been displaced to make space for carbon offsetting projects, such as reforestation or afforestation initiatives on their lands. 

“Amnesty International calls on African leaders attending COP28 in Dubai to ensure that the Loss and Damage Fund focuses on protecting human rights. By prioritising carbon trading, leaders have shifted the burden of reducing CO2 emissions to African countries, even though developed countries hold most responsibility for the climate crisis,” said Tigere Chagutah. 

African leaders at the gathering must also advocate for grants, rather than loans, to help reduce the debt burden on the continent and make it easier for countries to respond to the climate crisis. 

The proposal for a global tax on carbon pollution lacks clarity regarding how it will operate in practice. This lack of clarity could potentially harm ordinary people by creating additional challenges for the most vulnerable groups in Africa. Such a tax could disproportionately impact many economically disadvantaged communities by increasing the cost of basic necessities like energy and food. 

‘‘At COP28, African leaders must demand that developed countries not only meet their existing commitments, including previous shortfalls, but also substantially increase their climate finance contributions. They must promote  just energy transition frameworks and demand environmentally sound technologies that prioritise the rights of rural communities as well as the urban poor,” said Tigere Chagutah. 


From 4-6 September 2023, African leaders met in Nairobi, Kenya for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit. Attendees at the summit drafted the Nairobi Declaration, the continent’s unified voice ahead of COP28.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Genevieve Quintal, Media and Communications Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0) 64 890 9224; 

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