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A Reflection on Kenya’s Climate Discourse: Navigating the Challenge of Inclusive Communication

Sep 20, 2023 | Articles | 0 comments

It’s been over a week since the historic African Climate Summit concluded, and as the city of Nairobi returns to its usual rhythm, it’s time for us to contemplate the implications of this event for our nation, the environment, and each of us individually. This is an opportunity to reflect on our successes, our missteps, and how we can improve moving forward. This viewpoint is uniquely mine and may not reflect the opinions of others.

**Kenya’s Pivotal Role in Advancing Climate Action Across Africa.**

To kick off the African Climate Week, the African Youth Climate Assembly convened young climate leaders from across Africa, offering them a platform to articulate their concerns, propose solutions, and engage in conversations about fostering a sustainable future for the continent.

The highlight of the event was the President’s arrival at The KICC grounds for the closing ceremony of the Youth Summit, where he personally drove a vibrant yellow electric car. This entrance made an unmistakable statement: Kenya was embracing green initiatives without compromise. The streets of Nairobi were suddenly filled with new electric buses, a sight that left many both surprised and intrigued. Some dismissed it as a mere publicity stunt, while others saw it as a powerful affirmation of Kenya’s dedication to combating climate change.

What the citizens of Kenya didn’t know was that their already complex transportation system would be significantly impacted.  The traffic turned into a nightmarish ordeal for the common ‘mwananchi,’ as a routine hour-long commute to work was stretching to an hour and a half. This situation raises the question: Was Kenya adequately prepared to host such a massive summit? In fact, a friend of mine even proposed the idea that, for those with the capacity, remote work could have been a viable option.

There’s plenty of mixed reactions and opinions regarding our hosting of the summit, but what remains indisputable is that Kenya has firmly established itself as a key player in Africa’s efforts to address climate change. **“Africa has the largest endowment of arable agricultural land that can feed the world.  So, for all these reasons, Africa is the place of solutions to the climate crisis, and Kenya is one of the leading voices in reshaping the narrative,”** said Stephen Jackson, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya.

**Navigating the Challenge of Inclusive Communication**

I had the privilege of participating in an interactive policy workshop organized by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. During this event, I engaged with scientists, policy experts, and implementers to deliberate on practical solutions and collaboration strategies for advancing sustainable development and climate adaptation in Kenya. One critical point that resonated with me was the significance of communicating climate change information and solutions in a manner that’s both accessible and comprehensible to individuals at the local grassroots level. The effectiveness of climate change mitigation efforts could be undermined if those most affected cannot fully grasp the importance of the associated risks.

This leads me to a major concern in the discourse surrounding climate change: Carbon Credits. While it’s a topic on everyone’s lips, how many can confidently provide accurate facts about it? My guess is that less than 1% of the population truly understands the ins and outs of carbon credits and how they operate. There’s a perception that the truth behind it is being exclusively reserved for the elite, but that’s a can of worms I would rather not open.

As a communication expert, I must commend Kenya for the extensive campaigns and excitement it generated ahead of the summit. Massive billboards, advertisements, and digital campaigns were running before and after the summit, putting Kenya in the global spotlight. However, I couldn’t help but notice a demographic that appeared left out – the younger generation, including teenagers and those in their early twenties.

How do I discern this? Well, a substantial portion of the summit’s buzz seemed to revolve primarily around ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter), which is predominantly used by millennials. I didn’t observe as much activity on TikTok, a platform predominantly favored by Gen Z. I acknowledge that, although there were separate summits for children and youth, their voices weren’t as prominently featured in the Nairobi Declaration. Climate change undoubtedly constitutes an emergency, but we must ask: for whom? Who will bear the brunt of climate change’s effects the most? The heaviest burden of climate change’s effects falls upon our children and youth. It’s unjust to exclude them from the discussion.

In conclusion, there is a vital need for clear and accessible climate communication. While there are ongoing concerns regarding the public’s understanding of carbon credits and their intricacies, I firmly believe that education and transparency have the potential to bridge this knowledge gap. It’s often said that if you’re not at the table, then you’re probably on the menu. If you’re not involved in the decision-making process, then decisions are being made for you. Amidst all the noise, debates, and conspiracy theories surrounding climate mitigation, I must commend Kenya for making a bold statement. We have secured our seat at the table.

*Sheba Makori*

*Communications Specialist.*

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