Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Prof. Patrick Verkooijen, The University of Nairobi’s Chancellor, and CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), a renowned environmentalist, ushers in a new era of promise for Africa, emphasizing the continent’s enormous potential to address climate concerns through innovation.

He states, “This is Africa’s century,” emphasizing the continent’s abundant natural resources and expanding population, which is expected to account for one in every four people worldwide by 2050. However, he stresses that for Africa to realize its potential in AI and green jobs, affluent nations must honour their financial pledges to climate adaption.

Verkooijen believes that climate change adaptation should be a central focus of Africa’s development. He criticizes the decline in global funding for climate adaptation despite previous commitments to increase it.

“Every project without a climate lens is a wasted project,” says Verkooijen.

He highlights the GCA’s work in supporting climate-proofed development projects in Africa, including the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.

As the University of Nairobi’s first non-African chancellor, Verkooijen has a bold vision. He aims to transform the university into a global player at the forefront of sustainability efforts in five key areas: Innovation, Green Jobs, Artificial Intelligence, Leadership and Health Research

Prof. Verkooijen is spearheading the development of “Silicon Savannah,” a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship modelled after Silicon Valley. This initiative aims to provide young Africans with the skills and resources they need to develop solutions for a sustainable future.

The University of Nairobi, under Verkooijen leadership, is determined to be a driving force in Africa’s rise. By harnessing innovation, renewable technology, and international collaboration, UoN hopes to equip future generations of Africans to lead the continent toward a more sustainable and affluent future.

With the upcoming COP30 summit in November 2025, Verkooijen emphasizes the high stakes for Africa. He reiterates, “There is no way for the UN’s sustainable development goals to be achieved in Africa without putting adaptation at its heart.”

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