Common Purpose / 26 August 2023

Advancing Global Solidarity on Climate Challenge

Next generation leaders from the global North and South come together to work on pragmatic approaches to the environmental crisis in a bespoke Climate Challenge Leadership Programme launched by the Africa Finance Corporation in partnership with Common Purpose.


Pressure to reduce carbon emissions and regenerate biodiversity is increasing as the global climate crisis intensifies. However, a clear distinction must be drawn between the starting point for the global South and that of the global North.

Africa, for example, produces less than 3.8% of carbon emissions, yet the continent has been disproportionately impacted by climate change, with frequent droughts, heavy rains and severe heatwaves. Conversely, many of the highest emitting nations are feeling relatively little impact, undermining the sense of urgency.

These differing positions need to be bridged if we are to reduce emissions and drive the regeneration of biodiversity.

In response, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the continent’s leading infrastructure solutions provider, is collaborating with Common Purpose, an international leadership development organisation, to launch the Climate Challenge Leadership Programme which will offer a different approach.

The programme will aim to strengthen the capacity of a cohort of 50 dynamic emerging leaders from Africa and the rest of the world, who – as they progress in their careers – will build bridges between the global North and South and find new ways to address the environmental crisis. The programme will be funded by AFC and run by Common Purpose and will take place later this year.

“In order to address the climate crisis, we need leaders who can cross boundaries and collaborate to transform the systems that support our way of life,” said Adirupa Sengupta, Chief Executive of the Common Purpose Charitable Trust (UK). “The next generation of leaders will be at the heart of tackling these issues and we want to equip them to lead a different conversation between the global North and South. AFC is a natural partner for us because of their knowledge of, and ambition for, Africa and the global South.”

The programme is the latest iteration of the Common Purpose Innoventure Leadership Development Programme, which for the past 13 years has assembled young changemakers from across the globe to tackle everything from the reduction of the cost of surgery, to the optimization of societal benefits derived from new technologies. This latest edition will focus squarely on the practical challenge of bridging the gap in positions and perspectives on climate between leaders from the global North and South.

“The programme will be fertile ground for innovative solutions to be crafted by the next generation of leaders from Africa and beyond,” said AFC´s President and CEO, Samaila Zubairu.

“For far too long, Africa has been viewed by the rest of the world as a place of ‘problems’ – and yet Africa holds the solutions to many of the fundamental problems facing the world today, particularly in relation to climate change,” said Mr. Zubairu. “This is why we are supporting Common Purpose in the development of a rising generation of leaders from Africa and beyond who are enabled and empowered to offer global solutions to the climate challenge.”

AFC, through its investments and project advisory function, has a three-pronged approach to supporting Africa’s contribution to combating climate change: localising production to minimise emissions from shipping and other forms of transport; rebuilding infrastructure in a way that will be resilient to changing climate conditions and that anticipates, prepares for, and adapts to climate risk; and using financial innovation to crowd-in investment to support everything from reforestation to renewable power plants. AFC’s white paper, ‘A Pragmatic Path to Net Zero’, calls for African leaders to engage in a unified narrative with the rest of the world to assert the continent’s role in combating global warming and its impacts.

Successful applicants to the Climate Challenge Leadership Programme will be emerging leaders with at least five years of professional experience and will come from different sectors, countries, and communities across Africa, the wider global South and the global North.

By the programme’s end, the participants will have increased their ability to ‘Lead Beyond Authority’, a pre-requisite to solving any complex problem, and will have made new connections with leaders across the global North and South. They will have developed their analytical and creative skills and enhanced their influence by tackling a complex challenge within a diverse group. 

Applications are now open via the Common Purpose website. Apply here

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About AFC

AFC was established in 2007 to be the catalyst for private sector-led infrastructure investment across Africa. AFC’s approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development, and risk capital to address Africa’s infrastructure development needs and drive sustainable economic growth.

 Sixteen years on, AFC has developed a track record as the partner of choice in Africa for investing and delivering on instrumental, high-quality infrastructure assets that provide essential services in the core infrastructure sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications. AFC has 40 member countries and has invested US$11.5 billion across Africa since inception.

Media Enquiries:

Yewande Thorpe, Communications, Africa Finance Corporation

Mobile : +234 1 279 9654

Email :

 Gavin Serkin, New Markets Media & Intelligence

Telephone: +44 20 3478 9710


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Common Purpose

Common Purpose is a leadership development organization that specializes in cross-boundary leadership. The not-for-profit organization runs programmes in over 100 cities worldwide. Founded in 1989, Common Purpose has over 115,000 alumni globally. The organization’s leadership development programmes inspire and equip people to work across boundaries. This enables them to solve complex problems in organizations and in society.

Find out more:

Alison Coburn, Chief Executive, Common Purpose International

Mobile: +44 (0)7852 914 670



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