Duo's green solution pitch that made impact at climate summit

Young Insurance Professional (YIPs) Kenya Director Sharon Owiti. [Courtesy]

When two green investors expressed their intention to participate at the just-ended inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) to present their project they faced a hurdle.

Given that they were showcasing a green solution, Young Insurance Professional (YIPs) Africa President Tobi Osanaiye of Nigeria, and Kenya's Director Sharon Owiti, assumed it would be a walk in the pack securing a slot at the prestigious climate event.

Their organisation, being a financial institution was aligned with organisations that offered financial linkages to finance climate change. On the other hand, they had stated that they were a continental body of young professionals with creative ideas and green solutions beyond the traditional provision of financial linkage.

"It was difficult for us to convince the event organisers that though YIPs, ranked under the finance docket, we had a different entry point - that of offering an environmental and conservation campaign that target the preservation of the environment through nature-based solutions," Osanaiye explains.

Owiti says there was a misunderstanding because climate finance, loss and damage and climate justice were the big themes and entry points for potential plenary presentations, exhibitors, side events at the summit in Nairobi held from September 4 to 8.

"Each potential participant had to align themselves under these specific themes to get a slot at the big event. Though our focus is climate finance we tried to get in through a different entry point, offering nature based solutions," says Owiti.

Osanaiye says YIPs wanted to showcase the organisation's nature-based solutions such as reforestation, wetlands restoration and sustainable land use practices projects.

He says this participatory role, would enhance YIP's input significantly in playing a role in reducing the risk of natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, and hurricanes.

Luckily they got a chance to showcase their nature-based solution idea.

"Our interest is in supporting or partnering with initiatives that promote these solutions to mitigate their exposure to such risk," says the President, adding that nature-based solutions are increasingly being recognised as effective tools for addressing climate change adaptation.

Notably, he says, nature-based solutions can help communities and businesses to adapt to the changing climate through such initiatives as the preservation of ecosystems that provide natural buffers against extreme weather events.

Owiti says insurance companies are moving away from the norm by exploring sustainable finance and investing in environmentally-friendly projects.

The Kenyan YIPs chapter director notes that nature-based solutions can be considered as part of impact investing efforts as they contribute to biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and ecosystem restoration.

According to the duo, there are three chapters of the organisation that are fostering the idea of nature-based solutions - Women for Inclusive Insurance, Women Leadership in Insurance Africa, and Environment, Social, and Governance.

YIPs, says, Owiti is already running nature- based solution projects, one of them being the Mozambique Women for Inclusive Insurance project that empowers vulnerable communities, especially women who have been hard-hit by effects of climate change.

Doors of opportunity

"Women bear the blunt of climate change, and by closely collaborating with YIPs, through embracing nature-based solutions, the project is extending the reach of insurance to more women," says Owiti.

This, she adds, ensures that women have the means to secure their future, actively contributing to a more resilient and prosperous Africa.

The project's commitment to inclusivity and gender equity in climate resilience efforts exemplifies their dedication to a sustainable future. The projects, she says, will soon be replicated in Kenya.

On the other hand, Women Leadership in Insurance Africa (WLIAfrica) places climate change at the forefront of its core pillars, putting emphasise on Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. Osanaiye explains that realising the pressing global challenge of climate change, WLIAfrica empowers female professionals in the insurance and risk management sectors.

By fostering a community of like-minded individuals, WLIAfrica facilitates the exchange of ideas and knowledge, empowering members to make a positive impact. Within the realm of ESG, WLIAfrica encourages members to champion environment responsible practices and supports companies in reducing their environmental impact by commitment to climate-conscious leadership that aligns with the mission to ensure a sustainable future.

Osanaiye, says, Africa's sustainable future is in the hands of the youthful majority.

He says Africa's youth could achieve this through collaboration with organisations and governments working on climate resilience projects that involve nature-based solutions.

Observable effects of climate change on water resources in Africa that need nature-based solutions include flooding, drought, change in distribution of rainfall, drying-up of rivers, melting of glaciers and the receding of bodies of water.

"Policy makers, business leaders and environmental campaigners came to Nairobi to find solutions for mitigation, adaptation and finance for Africa, and YIPs came with an offer of a new paradigm through a linkage between insurance and environment".

The President says though the continent is least responsible for carbon emissions, it is the hardest hit by the effects of the carbon emissions as seen in the rising temperatures, faster than in many other parts of the world, causing more frequent extreme weather events and prolonged droughts leading to food shortages, and loss of lives.

Targeting Africa

Osanaiye and Owiti are happy that YIPs finally got a slot and participated at the Nairobi Summit, and successfully put in a strong presentation, which they hope will turn-around the fortunes of YIPs, which they hope in a year or two will have spread its wings across Africa.

"At the end, YIPs persistence and resilience to be part of the Africa's big climate event paid off with huge dividends and our biggest win was to be part of the 'big Nairobi Declaration'.

The Nairobi Declaration was adopted to be the basis for Africa's common position in the global climate change process to COP 28 and beyond.

With this win, the duo say, doors of opportunity have opened for YIPs, to spread its wings further.

For instance, they say the organisation will bring to fruition the spread of nature-based climate solutions by working with secondary schools across at least 48 countries in the continent through country directors.

This is one of the major reasons why the Executives of YIPs organisation is structured to have chapters across each country in Africa.

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