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Highlights from the Summit Summary

HOW WAS AGES 2024? “Wow, respect and thank you!”

“Wow, respect and thank you!” These were the words of World Bank Director John Roome at the end of the second edition of Africa’s Green Economy Summit (AGES) that took place in Cape Town from 21–23 February.

The climate change expert said he was blown away by the quality of the interventions, both on the conference panel discussions and on the pitch stages, the flawless administrative logistics and the IT support (loadshedding caused only a 30 sec interruption during Day 2’s opening session).

“It worked really, really well. I am walking out of here much more optimistic on this agenda than I was coming in.”

Key takeaways
Dr Room was asked to close the conference with some key takeaways and inspiring insights into the two days and to propose a roadmap for implementation of the success post-event:

“There are global opportunities in a green economy, and there are exciting African examples. If Africa can scale this up from a very low level at the moment, there is an opportunity to have growth and poverty reduction in a socially responsible way with a low climate and environmental impact and resilience to climate change.’

He continued: “But to do this is going to require a large number of stakeholders from the public-private sectors, domestic and international, to come together in a different way in order to deliver it. The AGES focus on bringing people together to develop these partnerships is exactly the way to go.”

This is about people
Roome said many speakers had confirmed that the continent is seeing a lot of fallout from climate change with disasters and environmental challenges, such as fires, floods, drought and crop damage.

“The green growth agenda will not only avoid the bad but also opportunities to create good. For example, emobility will make urbanisation more palatable.”

He reminded attendees that while we all regard ourselves as friends of the earth, “fundamentally, this is about people. The planet will survive but it is about the quality of our lives.”

Throughout the event, the main foyer was a hub of activity with a stage that featured some 30 start-ups and investment-ready green and sustainable projects presenting an investment pipeline of almost $1 billion. Some 40 financial institutions were present to assess the projects.

The World Bank director stated he was “blown away by the passion and the range of the pitches. The energy and dynamism gave me great hope.”

Blended finance
There were several sessions focusing on how “green deals” are put together and Roome reminded the audience that “not every dollar is green.”

“How do you blend it? In the end you need people and institutions to develop finance, policy and deals.” Many experts had reported on the successes of PPPs, “as no one stakeholder will solve problems independently.”

World Bank is all in
Said Roome: “From the World Bank’s side, we are all in on this agenda. We had an even bigger team here than we had last year. We would like to keep this going into the future. We have a new president who has changed our mission from reducing poverty to reducing poverty on a liveable planet.” He said this will also shift their focus from inputs to outcomes.

He complimented the AGES organisers on an increased diversity of the gathering, with many more African partners this year compared to South African and noticed a much stronger gender focus, not only in speakers and participants. The first Women in Green Economy (WIN) Breakfast took place at the event. “You could feel the energy in the room.”

“Actually, a lot of people of people in the climate dimension are saying, when you have women in the global, international space, you come to agreements a lot quicker than when you have men.”

John Roome’s final take-away to the audience: “You all can do it. As Al Gore said: ‘This is the first generation to experience the impacts of climate change, and the last generation that can do anything about it.’ You are all leaders in your own right. There is a leadership role for everybody. If not us, then who; if not now, then when?”

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