Kenya seeks to abate its Green House Gas emissions by 30% by 2030 relative to the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario of 143 MtCO2eq. This is in streak with its sustainable development agenda which was launched in early September 2016. Realizing this agenda will depend on Kenyan youths’ understanding of Climate Change as a global development concern and appreciation of their role in finding solutions to local climate challenges.
Public participation is arguably the most far-reaching provision with major implications for increasing responsiveness to climate change. Article 11 of the Constitution places strong emphasis on respect, consultation, liaison, cooperation, dispute resolution, accountability and the power of the people to determine the destiny of their nation. It is upon such provisions as stipulated in Article 69 (2) that the youth must secure their spot as dependable citizens in furthering dialogue on climate change policy and response in Kenya.
Youth action against climate change is already proving beneficial in realizing Kenya’s mitigation and adaptation targets. With the high youth numbers espousing climate change challenge, the quality of the environment has visibly improved in recent years. Many youth are taking up climate change courses, implementing climate change programmes and supporting awareness creation strategies. Unfortunately, these results are being confronted by weak youth-policy nexus, bureaucratic governance systems, inexplicable land use changes, unemployment pressures and dwindling economic anecdotes.
Young people pose for a photo during a Regional Stakeholders Consultative Workshop in Embu County.
Luckily, the National Climate Change Act 2016 is with us. This is one framework that the youth must read, identify with and support to the last person. They must reach out, create awareness and sensitize their peers of the benefits linked to its full execution. The prospects and multifunctional safeguards sited in the Act must challenge the wisdom of generality in understanding youth potency.
Even as they shoulder the responsibility of seeing the success of the Act, it will be prudent to take caution against the high participation cost, tokenism and deficient administrative capacity and training. These factors must be checked. If ignored they may invigorate youth seclusion and rebuff by policy makers.
The urge to secure youth participation and involvement must provoke calls for effective systems and strong institutional capacities. This must be undertaken with solitary intention of delivering youth-focused climate change information and investments.
Apart from enhancing systems and enriching capacities, it is necessary to sensitize the youth on uncontroversial but unpalatable data regarding climate change. The sensitization should be aimed at asserting clout in their quest to fashion substantial impacts.
With the support from various stakeholders led by the Directorate of Climate Change and contributing partners, the youth can aid in bridging the gap between climate change research, public knowledge and development practice.
For governments and duty bearers, there is need for reshaping partnerships and goodwill. The youth must enter the boardrooms, be listened to and their contributions appreciated. Importantly, support their concepts and assist them access climate change allied funds.
For young people, times have changed. Priorities are changing fast. You must be on toss. Be up-to- date with proper planning skills, financial management expertise, contemporary monitoring systems, prerequisite capacities, relevant information, embrace structured consultations and enhance your proficiency. Be climate smart!
With the new Climate Change Act, young people now have a legal backing to take climate action as their private duty. With greater optimism and faith, they can set the pace in pursuit of carbon free development pathway en-bloc. They can redefine this new era and lead the way to a climate smart development in Kenya.
By Jacob Olonde
Environment,Policy and Leadership Advisor
Centre for Devolution and Environment.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @olondejacob; Facebook: Olonde Jacob