Saliem Fakir, African Climate Foundation: “We need to champion our own causes”.

The IKEA Foundation helps many organisations accelerate their efforts in combating climate change. Facts and figures speak for themselves, but who exactly are the people behind this extraordinary work? In this storytelling series, we spotlight brave individuals who move mountains in their climate action strategies and solutions. Today: Saliem Fakir, Executive Director of the African Climate Foundation.


I was at the University of Witwatersrand, studying genetic engineering,  and given my political activities I increasingly become interested in social justice issues. At this time, South Africa was moving out of apartheid into the post-apartheid era. These social justice issues also arouse my curiosity on how economies work. What’s the role of the state in the economy? What’s the role of the private sector? How do we create inclusive economies? How do we build an economic approach that is really beneficial to citizens?

I also became interested in interlinkages between environmental and economic issues. Later, I worked on biodiversity issues, and leading a government process on the South African national biodiversity policy process. Historically, conservation tended to be a focus of a narrow group of people in South Africa, who were largely the white constituency.

The National Biodiversity Policy and strategies, post-apartheid, were re-orientated to serve a more inclusive vision for biodiversity and spoke to more than the white community. It was a privilege to be involved in shaping that new vision, including things like community-based natural resource management were pioneering areas of work in conservation.

Energy and climate

Later on in life I began to focus a lot more on the importance of the energy sector. Not just energy but the power it has to create democratised societies and uplift people’s wellbeing.

I began to see that if we could find ways to build more equitable access to energy at cheaper cost, and layer that with a climate objective, things would start falling into place.

The Africa Climate Foundation (ACF) is a very new foundation focused on delivering climate solutions on the African continent. The most recent has been to support the work we have done in South Africa in the background that’s led to a political outcome – the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) and growing ecosystem on the just transition.

Rooted in Africa

I’m really proud of two things. One is that by working with our partners, in government and outside of government, we managed to pull off the JETP in a context that most people observing from outside would have thought impossible. There is still a lot of work to be done.

The second is how we’ve been able to set up the ACF and build a team in three years. We have a huge responsibility to reflect the issues of the continent – not just on climate but also on addressing debt and economic development. Our philosophy is that we can’t do it alone. We’re very open-minded, and we engage with everybody.

I also want to give credit to many philanthropies for setting up ACF, with special thanks to IKEA Foundation also coming on board, as an organisation that is rooted and governed on the continent, and has developed networks and legitimacy. This has given us the ability to develop our mandate organically and without intrusion. They have conferred true autonomy to any African led and based institution.

Climate and development

In the next 10 years, we want to build ACF as an institution that is self-sustaining, strong, and can continue to have an impact in the different domains it’s working in.

Secondly, we must change the narrative of how we view the climate issue. It needs to be interlinked very strongly to the development needs of the African constituency. It must be seen not as something from outside, but from something within. We need to be champions of our own causes.

And thirdly, we need to find ways for countries to resolve the effects of climate as a systemic risk on the major economic sectors. We must create opportunities for them to see climate not only as as a threat, but also a positive thing that’s hard-wired to the development agenda. An opportunity for increased investments in the energy sector, clean energy, electric mobility, better land use and agriculture.

Africa as an opportunity

If I could speak on the main stage at COP28, I would remind delegates that adaptation and mitigation are interlinked. If a country is consistently subject to climate risk, it has an impact not only on local communities but also on the government’s ability to invest in the energy transition. There shouldn’t be an artificial separation and fragmentation of these two issues.

I’d add that the African continent is going to be the most important continent going forward, given the doubling of its population size. It will have the most youthful population in the world and its workforce and natural resources will be vital in contributing to global wealth- but that cannot happen at the expense of Africans.

One should not see Africa only as a place where you can get natural resources but also as a place with the most talented minds and young people who want to contribute creatively to solving their own problmes. They’re the next political leadership on the continent. People should not see Africa as a risk, but as an opportunity.

Team effort

I hope that by setting the stage for the ACF and the whole team effort, including our partners, we can build a platform that delivers outcomes both for Africa and for a global community of people who are passionate about solving climate challenges on the continent.

This job is about learning by doing. It’s not about learning by theorising. You go out there, you do something, and you learn from other people. And, just keep doing.


ABOUT

Saliem Fakir is Executive Director of the African Climate Foundation (ACF). Set up in 2020, the ACF is the first African-led strategic grant-maker and think-tank working at the nexus of climate change and development. It works with countries across the continent on energy transitions, agriculture and land use, and adaptation and resilience.

The IKEA Foundation supports the African Climate Foundation because we believe that sustainable development and tackling climate change must go hand in hand – helping families improve their livelihoods while protecting the planet.

Recently, Saliem co-authored an op-ed with our Chief Programmes Officer Marilia Bezerra, you can read here:






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  • โ€œWe are just at the beginning. A glorious future!โ€ - Ingvar Kamprad

Thanks to the incredible work of IKEA co-workers and our 248 partners on the ground, weโ€™ve been able to take meaningful steps towards tackling the two biggest threats to humanity: poverty and climate change ๐ŸŒ

Do you want to see what โ‚ฌ2 billion worth of impact looks like for #PeopleAndPlanet? Follow the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

#ClimateChange #ClimateAction #Livelihoods
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With a strong focus on impact, the initiative educates and equips corporate non-executive board members with the tools to address climate change in their businesses, and beyond. 

The Climate Governance Initiative is a global network dedicated to mobilising boards to accelerate the transition to net-zero and build climate resilience, and is now reaching 100,000+ business leaders worldwide. 

Read the Annual Report via the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

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  • The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), a longstanding partner of the IKEA Foundation, has contributed to a growing demand for corporate decarbonisation.

In 2023 alone, the SBTi doubled its corporate validations. 4,204 companies have been validated so far for their ambitious emission reduction targets.

Whatโ€™s more, the SBTi has now been granted charitable status, taking its place as an independent entity and using our $18m funding pledge to drive ambitious corporate #ClimateAction ๐ŸŒ

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We need to act now to transition to food systems that are good for people and the planet. 

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โ€œWe are just at the beginning. A glorious future!โ€ - Ingvar Kamprad

Thanks to the incredible work of IKEA co-workers and our 248 partners on the ground, weโ€™ve been able to take meaningful steps towards tackling the two biggest threats to humanity: poverty and climate change ๐ŸŒ

Do you want to see what โ‚ฌ2 billion worth of impact looks like for #PeopleAndPlanet? Follow the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

#ClimateChange #ClimateAction #Livelihoods
โ€œWe are just at the beginning. A glorious future!โ€ - Ingvar Kamprad

Thanks to the incredible work of IKEA co-workers and our 248 partners on the ground, weโ€™ve been able to take meaningful steps towards tackling the two biggest threats to humanity: poverty and climate change ๐ŸŒ

Do you want to see what โ‚ฌ2 billion worth of impact looks like for #PeopleAndPlanet? Follow the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

#ClimateChange #ClimateAction #Livelihoods
โ€œWe are just at the beginning. A glorious future!โ€ - Ingvar Kamprad

Thanks to the incredible work of IKEA co-workers and our 248 partners on the ground, weโ€™ve been able to take meaningful steps towards tackling the two biggest threats to humanity: poverty and climate change ๐ŸŒ

Do you want to see what โ‚ฌ2 billion worth of impact looks like for #PeopleAndPlanet? Follow the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

#ClimateChange #ClimateAction #Livelihoods
โ€œWe are just at the beginning. A glorious future!โ€ - Ingvar Kamprad Thanks to the incredible work of IKEA co-workers and our 248 partners on the ground, weโ€™ve been able to take meaningful steps towards tackling the two biggest threats to humanity: poverty and climate change ๐ŸŒ Do you want to see what โ‚ฌ2 billion worth of impact looks like for #PeopleAndPlanet? Follow the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”— #ClimateChange #ClimateAction #Livelihoods
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Positive News Tuesday! There is rapid growth in the global movement to mobilise boards to address #ClimateChange ๐ŸŒโ™ป๏ธ

This is stated in the first-ever Annual Report of our partner @hugheshallcam, who worked on the Climate Governance Initiative.

With a strong focus on impact, the initiative educates and equips corporate non-executive board members with the tools to address climate change in their businesses, and beyond. 

The Climate Governance Initiative is a global network dedicated to mobilising boards to accelerate the transition to net-zero and build climate resilience, and is now reaching 100,000+ business leaders worldwide. 

Read the Annual Report via the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

#ClimateSolutions #PeopleAndPlanet @worldeconomicforum
Positive News Tuesday! There is rapid growth in the global movement to mobilise boards to address #ClimateChange ๐ŸŒโ™ป๏ธ This is stated in the first-ever Annual Report of our partner @hugheshallcam, who worked on the Climate Governance Initiative. With a strong focus on impact, the initiative educates and equips corporate non-executive board members with the tools to address climate change in their businesses, and beyond. The Climate Governance Initiative is a global network dedicated to mobilising boards to accelerate the transition to net-zero and build climate resilience, and is now reaching 100,000+ business leaders worldwide. Read the Annual Report via the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”— #ClimateSolutions #PeopleAndPlanet @worldeconomicforum
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The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), a longstanding partner of the IKEA Foundation, has contributed to a growing demand for corporate decarbonisation.

In 2023 alone, the SBTi doubled its corporate validations. 4,204 companies have been validated so far for their ambitious emission reduction targets.

Whatโ€™s more, the SBTi has now been granted charitable status, taking its place as an independent entity and using our $18m funding pledge to drive ambitious corporate #ClimateAction ๐ŸŒ

Read more about this exciting news by following the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”— #CorporateClimateAction
The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), a longstanding partner of the IKEA Foundation, has contributed to a growing demand for corporate decarbonisation. In 2023 alone, the SBTi doubled its corporate validations. 4,204 companies have been validated so far for their ambitious emission reduction targets. Whatโ€™s more, the SBTi has now been granted charitable status, taking its place as an independent entity and using our $18m funding pledge to drive ambitious corporate #ClimateAction ๐ŸŒ Read more about this exciting news by following the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”— #CorporateClimateAction
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Insights from our partner FSECโ€™s new Global Policy Report highlight the urgent need to transform food systems and the enormous benefits of doing so for #PeopleAndPlanet. ๐ŸŒ

The #HiddenFoodCosts continue to accumulate โ€” within the 10 seconds you spent reading this post, another $4,684,155 was incurredโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ’ธ 

We need to act now to transition to food systems that are good for people and the planet. 

Learn more about #FoodSystemsTransformation and the hidden food costs by following the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”—

#FixFoodEconomics
โฐ Every second counts when trying to transform our broken food system. Insights from our partner FSECโ€™s new Global Policy Report highlight the urgent need to transform food systems and the enormous benefits of doing so for #PeopleAndPlanet. ๐ŸŒ The #HiddenFoodCosts continue to accumulate โ€” within the 10 seconds you spent reading this post, another $4,684,155 was incurredโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ’ธ We need to act now to transition to food systems that are good for people and the planet. Learn more about #FoodSystemsTransformation and the hidden food costs by following the link in our bio ๐Ÿ”— #FixFoodEconomics
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