Kenya has launched a strategic plan for green economy to help reduce pressure on natural resources and spur economic growth. The Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) sets Kenya’s transition to a resource efficient, low carbon and inclusive green economy.
“The strategy is a result of our plan to better utilise our natural resources and ensure greater socioeconomic growth as a country,” Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Prof Judi Wakhungu said at the launch on Thursday.
Wakhungu noted that the demand for water, soils, air and ecosystems in the country continue to attract more pressure coupled with unpredictable weather patterns fuelled by climate change that poses great challenge to rain-fed agriculture based economy.
“The strategy is earmarked to strengthen the country’s third medium term plan by increasing growth across all sectors to attaining economic growth rate of 10 percent and above to ensure the economy doubles in size in eight years,” she added.
GESIP proposes support for rapid economic growth, infrastructure development, diversification and commercialisation of agriculture, food security, better health and education, youth employment and improved water sources and sanitation.
Wakhungu said actions taken to slow down and adapt to climate change has helped broaden environmental management for planning and development in the country.
Through a number of initiatives and with support from development partners, Kenya has made strides in mainstreaming the green economy in small businesses across the country.
Environmental experts from the government have conducted pilot trainings for county personnel in Mombasa and Nakuru.
“A shift in investment to green sectors would lift an additional 3.1 million people in Kenya out of poverty by 2030, while also contributing to a healthy GDP growth during the same period,” Dirk Wagener, the UN Environment Resource Efficient coordinator, said.
He revealed that GESIP has been informed by an earlier joint initiative with Kenyan government – the Green Economy Assessment Study in 2015 by UNEP, which identified policy actions, access to financing and skills and capacity needs as opportunities towards transition to a green economy.
“Green economy not only protects the Kenyan natural capital and reduces environment and climate footprint, but helps make contributions from a business and social perspective since it improves competitiveness, spurs growth which in turn creates green and decent jobs,” he added. Wagener said the UN Environment will continue to support the implementation of GESIP in ensuring that Kenya transits to green economy as planned.
Speaking at the event, the Danish Ambassador to Kenya, Mette Knudsen, noted that sustainable development is a key component of governments globally as it contributes to the streamlining of economies in a sound and more sustainable manner.
Knudsen said that Kenya has done the right thing adding that with the increasing resource scarcity and competition coupled with continued environmental degradation and unabated climate change, catastrophic impacts for the economy and societies is eminent.
Knudsen observed that Kenya urgently requires a large scale transition as a sustainable development pathway to help the country protect itself from the climate change and other environmental threats.
“The transition to an inclusive green economy presents numerous opportunities for Kenya to asses and address the impact of its economic activities on the environment and calls for transformation of the behavior of individuals, institutions and society at large,” he added.
Even though GESIP is expected to propel Kenya in a new economic trajectory characterised by low emissions, resource efficiency and higher economic growth, the strategy implementation may face some challenges.
It blames inadequate compliance and weak enforcement of laws and regulations across sectors, inadequate information about green technologies and integrating natural capital into economic growth.
Other challenges include lack of huge finances to support initial phase of transitioning to green economy and gaps that exist in human capacity and skills across thematic areas.