Sakaja unveils ambitious green building pledge at Summit pre-event

Governor Johnson Sakaja during the Africa climate summit pre-summit event on the driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the word. [Mactilda Mbenywe, Standard]

Nairobi's City Hall is set to become the first-ever green government building in Africa.

Nairobi's Governor, Johnson Sakaja, made these remarks while pledging to promote green building and job creation at the Pre-Africa climate summit in Nairobi.

Green construction is a building approach that focuses on creating structures and spaces in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner using materials, designs, and practices that reduce the negative impact on the environment, conserve resources, and promote energy efficiency.

During his address, Governor Sakaja emphasised the importance of sustainable construction and environmental consciousness.

He declared, "We are reducing fees for green architecture and making it mandatory for certain aspects to be considered. We are currently renewing nine estates in Nairobi, which are providing 40,000 housing units. We are ensuring that energy-saving fixtures, water-saving fixtures, stormwater drainage, and environmental protection facilities are a must."

In terms of job creation, Sakaja stated, "Just in the last 12 months that I have been in office, we have created 6,000 green jobs directly, with a ripple effect that generates approximately 300,000 additional jobs and opportunities."

Sakaja also outlined his administration's commitment to reducing emissions by sourcing food locally for the city's school feeding programme.

He explained, "One of our climate action plans is the protection of our vulnerable communities, particularly children. If there's nothing in their stomach, there's nothing in their head. we've initiated Africa's largest school feeding program to address this issue."

Governor Sakaja's vision extends to transforming Nairobi into a city of dignity and positive change. He emphasised the need to align construction with climate standards and measure emissions and air quality throughout the city.

He announced, "We have completed our preliminary assessment at our office, which we intend to certify as the first green government building in Africa. City Hall is going to be a green government building. I believe that if we intend to build greener and more resilient buildings in our cities, we need to lead by example."

In a move aimed at encouraging green building practices, Sakaja assured architects and developers of it. He stated, "There will be incentives and opportunities offered by the government for green buildings. We need to make this transformation practical and affordable."

Governor Sakaja also emphasised the importance of educating and exporting green building skills, ensuring that young people are equipped for this industry.

He said, "We cannot approve concrete jungles in our city; there must be green spaces. Our development control regulations will include provisions for this.”

Other speakers stressed the urgency of addressing climate change in Africa Professor Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, said there is a need to commit 67 per cent of the continent's resources to building climate adaptation buildings.

He said on climate change in Africa, no single institution can solve this problem alone. He revealed in the past two years countries have committed 40 - 45 per cent of their funds to climate finance meaning about  USD10 billion goes to address emissions of climate change.

"When considering the challenges posed by climate change, it's evident that Africa bears the brunt of its impacts. This trend must change. We hold the solutions, and together, we will tackle the issue of climate change."

Dr John Chuma Chief Executive Officer at the office of Kenya’s first lady Rachel Ruto emphasised the need for climate action to protect vulnerable groups, particularly women, youths, and children. He praised Kenya's initiatives, such as the Rachel Ruto initiative, which empowers women through women-led groups and programs.

He pushed for efforts to mobilise climate, carbon and sustainable fiancé to build green and resilient cities for a better Africa is timely as the continent grapples with rapid urbanization.

Dr Sheila Ochugboju Executive Director, Alliance for Science stressed the critical importance of adopting green building and urban development strategies in Africa to combat the challenges of climate change.

 "Green buildings and cities in Africa represent an opportunity, not just to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but to lead the way in sustainable urban development. We have the knowledge and the technology; now we need the commitment,” she said.

Ochugboju underscored the broader societal benefits of green building and urban planning, emphasising their role in ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for African communities.