The founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, has convened global leaders to drive immediate and equitable climate action for Africa at the COP28 – UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The UN Climate Change Conference hosts world leaders every year to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
Elumelu is one of Africa’s leading advocates for an equitable Marshall plan for climate action and through The Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered thousands of green entrepreneurs shaping a more sustainable future for Africa.
Elumelu, through his Foundation, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and in partnership with the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which he chairs, hosted a high-level session at COP28, bringing together Africans, and key players in the Gulf, Europe, and Americas, where UBA operates, to engage in a multi-stakeholder dialogue, underscoring the urgent need for innovative approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation while fostering sustainable development.
The dialogue took place with speakers including Okonjo Iweala, Director General, World Trade Organization; Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP, Kevin Frey, CEO, UNICEF Generation Unlimited; Sergio Pimenta, VP Africa, IFC; Wendy Teleki, Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative, World Bank; Adam Wang-Levine, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Climate; Joseph Nganga, vice president, Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, Rockefeller Foundation; Hassan Al Hashemi, VP International Relations, Dubai Chambers; Serge Ekué, chairman, West African Development Bank (BOAD); Muyiwa Akinyemi, deputy group managing director, United Bank for Africa; and Mattias Frumerie, Swedish Climate Ambassador and Head of Delegation, UNFCCC.
“Addressing climate change remains the paramount challenge of our era. The urgency is unmistakable; there is no room for delay. It is imperative that we enhance our efforts to tackle these issues and establish the groundwork for a sustainable future.” Elumelu stated. “It is critical that Africa, as a continent, and African voices, play a key role in global climate conversations, as meaningful participants, and no longer as bystanders – Africa must actively set the agenda.” Elumelu continued.
Elumelu, who represented the African private sector at the 2023 New Global Financing Pact in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum in London, at the invitation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom and U.S. President Biden, continues to empower and champion young African entrepreneurs. At the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) launched a first-of-its-kind Green Entrepreneurship Programme, the #BeGreenAfrica Initiative, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, Dutch Government and UNICEF GenU, to support green entrepreneurship and youth development.
Speaking at the Tony Elumelu Foundation hosted at COP28 high-level event, Okonjo-Iweala, said, “I am terribly proud of what my brother, Tony Elumelu, has done in empowering and inspiring so many young entrepreneurs. We have no choice; the future is green. The future of growth is two things – it is green, and it must be inclusive. I am very interested in partnerships with organisations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation because I don’t want to duplicate what someone else has done.”
Continuing the dialogue, Ahunna Eziakonwa, assistant administrator and regional director for Africa, UNDP added, “The reason why UNDP associated itself with the Tony Elumelu Foundation years ago is because of the leadership and courage of the Foundation to trust and invest in young Africans. It was one of the first organisations in the world to do so at that scale.”
In response, Tony Elumelu shared that the UNDP has partnered with the Tony Elumelu Foundation to empower thousands of young Africans, with an ambitious project to impact the lives of one million young Africans in the Sahel region of Africa.
Sergio Pimenta, VP, Africa at IFC, stated, “Tony, I salute you and your Foundation for what you have been doing to support young entrepreneurs in Africa. The IFC has deployed $2billion in funding for African SMEs in the last fiscal year and we are very excited to be able to do more work with you.”
Kevin Frey, CEO UNICEF Generation Unlimited added, “Tony, you have been on our Global Leadership Council since day one, when the UN Secretary General launched the UNICEF Generation Unlimited. Under your leadership, we have really moved in a concerted way into the entrepreneurial space. We, Generation Unlimited, now have a flagship programme with the Tony Elumelu Foundation called #BeGreenAfrica, which was launched in Kenya, and now with the support of the IKEA Foundation and the Dutch Government, we have scaled to Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, and Senegal. We will train and seed 500 green entrepreneurs this year in the pilot project across those countries. So Tony, thank you so much, you are right it is all about partnerships and we are happy to be partnering with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”
Wendy Teleki, head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative at the World Bank, announced, “Our women-focused initiative has been able to secure $3.6billion to finance women entrepreneurs in 67 countries across the world, and is set to launch a new programme focused on financing African women entrepreneurs to drive the continent’s green energy transition, and we are keen to work with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”
Mattias Frumerie, Swedish Climate Ambassador and Head of UNFCCC Delegation stated, “My Government and I commend the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s incredible impact across Africa, and will facilitate connections between the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and the Swedish embassies across Africa to drive innovation, digitalisation, and green-energy transition, which promises to bring about new jobs and growth.”
Adam Wang-Levine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate, added-” Before coming to the United States Treasury, I was working in venture capital, and I know first-hand that it is incredibly important what the Tony Elumelu Foundation is doing. I have seen two pillars of their work that are very helpful – financing and the mentorship – just as I have seen with Silicon Valley, which helps to drive innovation and jobs creation. We are excited to begin partnership conversations.”
Deputy GMD, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, Muyiwa Akinyemi announced, “For us, UBA, we are a platform for market access into 20 geographies in Africa today. Everything that we do is around Africa, and that is why we have partnered with the Afrexim Bank to launch the $6billion fund for SMEs with a focus on import substitution to SMEs working in four key areas including climate emission reduction. We are also building a platform called UBA Marketplace, that will support Africans, especially women and youth – because Africa has a youth opportunity.”
A Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur from Madagascar in the green economy, Marie-Christiana Kola, shared a compelling impact story, attributing the success of her business to the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s intervention and support in 2022. “As a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme, I created a recycled and 100% biodegradable hand soap made with waste-cooked oil – the number one water polluter of water in African urban cities. These soaps do not only protect the environment, but they are also solidarity soaps. I also attended the COP27 conference in Egypt, where I won the Innovation Prize. Today, I have employed over 30 people because of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”
Earlier in the day, Tony Elumelu joined other global leaders including Ajay Banga, President of World Bank Group; Brian Moynihan, Chair of the Board and CEO of Bank of America; Ms. Ruth Porat, President, Alphabet and Google; and Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Steve Jobs and Founder & President of Emerson Collective as a panelist in a session titled “Big, Audacious and Green: A Convergence of Visionaries”, to be moderated by Børge Brende, President of World Economic Forum. At this gathering, Tony Elumelu made a call to global partners to join The Tony Elumelu Foundation Coalition for African Entrepreneurs.
On Sunday December 3 Tony Elumelu, also participated in a fireside conversation with Teresa Ribera, vice president of the Government of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Change, moderated by Sec. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and closing remarks from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization.