Kenya, just like any other country globally, has seen a significant temperature increase of 0.3°C to 0.6°C per decade, impacting key sectors like agriculture and water resources.
This rapid warming trend was a major focus at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) in Nairobi last month which, among others, highlighted the link between climate change, regional food systems and economic transformation.
Concurrently, the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum (AFS Forum 23) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, stressed the urgent need for climate-responsive solutions by African governments to address the continent’s food system challenges.
President William Ruto has since come through on his promise to explore greener and environmentally friendly fertilisers alongside a 10-year initiative to grow 15 billion trees by 2032, raising Kenya’s tree cover to 30 per cent, enhancing carbon sequestration, restoring 5.1 million hectares of deforested areas and benefiting households as 30 per cent of these trees will be fruit, nut, and fodder species.
President Ruto has also banned single-use plastic bags and initiated trials for biodegradable tubing bags in line with a United Nations resolution from UNEA 5.2. Meanwhile, Kenya is at the forefront of climate change efforts in Africa, with the Climate Change Act of 2016, and recent amendments to enhance its carbon market regime, driving its responses. The government is also actively implementing the third cycle of the National Climate Change Action Plan to promote low-carbon, climate-resilient development.
Yet even as we celebrate these great interventions, we must recognise that climate change is a complex issue that no single country can solve independently; a collaborative approach involving partnerships across national governments, the private sector and the international community is required for rapid transformation.
It is refreshing to note that African leaders are focusing their development strategies on sustainable solutions at both the national and continental levels. The Africa Environment Action Plan, the Africa Clean Energy Corridor, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative all indicate the continent’s strategic commitment to addressing the climate crisis. The actions proposed in these initiatives were restated in the Nairobi Declaration, which summed up the outcomes of the ACS23.
The Declaration comprises 23 commitments, primarily addressing policy areas related to investment attraction, economic development, enhanced continental cooperation, increased renewable energy financing, support for small-scale farmers, and the expedited implementation of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032).
Notably, the declaration emphasises the need for global collaboration to secure adequate capital for both development and climate initiatives, echoing the principles of the Paris Pact for People and the Planet which aims to ensure that no country must choose between its development goals, climate action and the basic human right to feed people.
The time is now for environmental, energy and food systems experts to resolutely come together to help the continent fight hunger, land degradation and ensure economic prosperity,
Our countries are up against a huge task: The need to transform food systems to feed people, to rehabilitate and safeguard the environment and to ensure resilience to shocks caused by the ongoing climate change. There is no doubt that African leaders are committed to build on the lessons of the recent crisis that our continent has faced to deliver stronger resilience for people, the environment, and our economies. Certainly, not an easy undertaking which will require stronger collaboration.
AGRA has developed a suite of transferable assets in the technology, system-strengthening partnerships and models that can benefit women, youth, and smallholder farmers in Kenya and across the continent. We are enthusiastic about collaborating with the government, like-minded institutions and the private sector to unlock potential in Kenya and Africa.
-Ms Tuya is the Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary. Dr Kalibata is the President of AGRA