Nairobi conference, hosted at Kenya Red Cross, heralds ‘new era’ for global climate assessment

Nairobi conference, hosted at Kenya Red Cross, heralds ‘new era’ for global climate assessment
7 April 2017

The ‘International Conference on Climate Risk Management’ ended today in Nairobi. The meeting will inform the next assessment report on the global climate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its sixth, known as ‘AR6’, regarded as a vital building block in the review of the Paris agreement due in 2023.

Hosted by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) at its Boma Hotel conference centre, the meeting was convened jointly by the IPCC and the Climate Centre; opening remarks were made by Ahmed Idris, Executive Director of the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs at the KRCS.

The conference brought together people from more than 35 countries with a scientific background as well as, in many cases, close connections to decision-making on the ground in highly vulnerable contexts.

‘Ambitious call’

Participants included both co-chairs of the IPCC’s Working Group II on impacts and adaptation: Dr Debra Roberts of South Africa and Dr Hans-Otto Pörtner of Germany. 

“The Paris agreement is a global and inclusive invitation to take up the challenge of securing a climate-safe future,” said Dr Roberts.

“This ambitious call to action means we are now entering a new era for the IPCC,” she added – a reference to the ‘IPCC 2.0’ concept of still-deeper scientific assessment centred on reducing risk.

“‘IPCC 2.0 is about assessing the solutions that will help us improve people’s lives and protect critical ecosystems,” Dr Roberts said.

“A key conclusion here,” according to Climate Centre Director Maarten van Aalst in Nairobi, “is the importance of connecting the knowledge of all stakeholders – central government as well as individuals, communities, businesses, civil society and local government – to the IPCC process.

“We need to integrate the knowledge of all these actors and respond to their needs. Even more critically, we need to put the risks facing the most vulnerable front and centre.”

‘Future leaders’

The meeting produced recommendations for AR6, including advice on risk, timelines and priorities.

“Impact and risk assessment at the ecosystem level and in human societies can each inform the other in the context of different climate futures,” said Hans-Otto Pörter, arguing this would provide clarity “for policy-makers as to which climates to avoid and which to go for”.

The three-day meeting encompassed a high-level event at the University of Nairobi’s (UoN) Chiromo campus “to collect issues that are important to developing countries with regards to climate change adaptation that will inform [scoping for AR6],” a KRCS news report says.

It was chaired by Ahmed Idris and included remarks by Professor Shem Wandiga, the Director of the UoN’s own Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, Dr Samwel Marigi, Kenya’s IPCC focal point, as well as Maarten van Aalst and Debra Roberts.

A networking event later enabled participants from the international meeting to engage with UoN students referred to for the occasion as ‘future leaders’ on the ambitions of Paris.


“African countries participate less in the authorship of reports in the IPCC, and hence it is important that data that is essential and credible is presented to the IPCC secretariat,” said Dr Marigi.

The Nairobi international conference represented “an important contribution to improving our understanding of risk and vulnerability across scales, contexts and sectors, and how that knowledge could inform the identification of resilient and sustainable responses,” said Dr Roberts.

“It’s the start of an important conversation that needs to continue throughout the sixth assessment,” she concluded.

Scoping for AR6 will be finalized in Addis Ababa next month and its outcomes considered by the IPCC itself in September.

Dr Debra Roberts talks to students at a University of Nairobi event held alongside the international scoping conference on climate-risk management that ended in the Kenyan capital today. (Photo: Ahmed Idris/ICHA via Twitter)