The leaders of 10 African countries are gathering in Ethiopia to try to agree a common position on climate change.
The summit comes ahead of crucial UN talks in Copenhagen in December.
Under the auspices of the African Union, the meeting will underline the chief African demand for compensation for damages caused by global warming.
The move to agree a common negotiating platform for Africa is a recognition of the failure of the continent to make its voice heard to date.
One of the documents prepared for the meeting talks about the “dismal co-ordination” of the African negotiation process.
So far, delegations from individual countries have had limited success in making the case that Africa needs special help as it has the lowest emissions of carbon dioxide on the planet, but is set to suffer the worst impacts.
In an attempt to change this, the African Union is bringing together the leaders of 10 countries under the chairmanship of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
The objective is to agree a set of key ideas on the way forward on climate for Africa so that the continent can be represented by one delegation at the global negotiations in Copenhagen in December.
Proposals for discussion include the suggestion that developed countries should cut their emissions by at least 40% by 2020, and that the richer nations should provide funds of $67bn (£40bn) a year to help the least well off cope with the impacts of rising temperatures.
The reality of the UN climate negotiations is that the US, China, India and the European Union have the greatest sway.
The African leaders will be hoping that speaking with one voice at Copenhagen will significantly enhance their negotiating position.