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Kenya Leading in the Green Growth Agenda

It is now a well known fact that rapid population increase will bring with it growing demands for food, water and energy. Seven billion people inhabit the world today and by 2050, this number will rise to 9 billion. This increase will bring with it growing demands, further testing the resilience of social and environmental systems in our increasingly resource constrained world.  The looming challenge will be meeting the needs of this population and ensuring that they have clean and healthy environments. Damages to the environment are already reaching to scales that are threatening livelihoods and the quality of life. This is largely due to unsustainable and inefficient growth patterns that have been in existence for many years that largely thrived at the expense of the environment. 

Developing countries like Kenya have not been spared, environmental challenges currently being faced call for a radical shift in how we view growth and development. We cannot wait any longer, growth is gaining pace, cities are growing, new industries are mushrooming, energy demand is increasing dramatically and the need for agricultural produce is as high as ever. Rather than taking the long, costly and environmentally harmful road that industrialized countries took to get where they are today, we should leapfrog into a more sustainable future wherever possible. Embracing green growth is seen as the solution for securing a strong stable and sustainable future for developing economies

Green growth presents a new approach to economic growth and puts human well‑being at the center of development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services to support sustainable development.Green growth integrates environmental considerations and the value of natural capital into economic decision making and development planning. Countries are now realizing that development that is not based on green growth may lead to prosperity, but only in the short term, and will soon be undermined by insecurity and vulnerability. In the recent years, interest in the green economy discourse has grown rapidly and governments are now keen on greening their economies.

Kenya has not been left behind in promoting the green growth agenda. Key decision makers including leaders in both the public and private sector are keen in supporting the country’s transition to a green and sustainable economy through targeted investments. In 2014, we saw the launch of the Green Economy Assessment Study by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (MEWNR) in collaboration with UNEP. The study analyzed the economic benefits and challenges of investing in priority economic sectors in support of Kenya’s transition to a green economy. According to the report, a green economy scenario will result in a faster economic growth and increased wealth creation opportunities. Under a green economy scenario, with an investment of two percent of GDP, national GDP would exceed a business-as-usual scenario by about 12 per cent, or KES 3.6 trillion (equivalent to USD 45 billion), by 2030

The government is now developing a Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) to support development efforts towards addressing key challenges such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, environmental degradation, climate change and variability, infrastructure gaps and food insecurity. The document is built upon national strategies, documents and policy plans including the 2010 constitution, Kenya Vision 2030 and the Second Medium Term Plan. The strategy focuses around five focus areas informed from a range of scoping activities, assessments and stakeholder consultation that are being held throughout the process of developing the strategy. The building blocks of the Strategy are: 

  1. Promoting sustainable infrastructure; 
  2. Building resilience; 
  3. Sustainable natural resource management; 
  4. Promoting resource efficiency; and 
  5. Social inclusion and sustainable livelihoods

The country is also engaging with the international community   and other players committed to advancing the green growth agenda.  One of the platforms that the country has been engaging in is the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF). This is a forum that convenes governments, businesses, investors and international organizations to act together for inclusive green growth. Kenya has been a partner country in the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) since 2011 and this year, the country was honored to host the first African Regional Green Growth Forum (3GF-Africa). This event brought together more than 200 delegates including, African ministers of environment, policymakers, international financial and environmental experts and private sector leaders. It provided a platform for participants to discuss how to turn barriers to Africa’s sustainable development into opportunities for green growth and improved livelihoods. At this conference, the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre joined six signatories from the private and public sector including:  Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment,  Dr Evans Kidero, Governor, Nairobi County; and Mr Vimal Shah, Bidco Africa Limited, in signing a letter of commitment and engagement in order to demonstrate their commitment to the principles and goals for green growth and sustainable development.