This newsletter gives you highlights of selected sustainability insights that were, perhaps, too long (you) didn’t read (TLDR) or there’s just too much out there to read. The highlights presented cover insights gleaned from a global, regional (African), and national (Kenyan) perspective. Happy reading!
This is an annual survey by GlobalScan and The Sustainability Institute by ERM which asks sustainability experts which organizations – companies, non-governmental, and governments – are leaders in sustainable development; and what are priority sustainability issues. Over 500 sustainability experts across 60 countries participated in the survey. Key insights from the survey highlight:
- Climate change, biodiversity, water and deforestation as the most urgent sustainability issues to address
- Recent legislative and international agreements have given much needed momentum for sustainability action e.g. global biodiversity agreement to protect nature by 2030, the EU’s Green Deal for a climate-neutral continent, EU regulation on deforestation-free products ensuring EU citizens don’t use products that contribute to deforestation or forest degradation, US Inflation Reduction Act the single largest investment ever on climate action, and adoption of sustainability-related disclosures e.g. the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Disclosure (CRSD) which expects reporting on supply chains of EU-based companies that are outside the EU, among others.
- From an NGO perspective, WWF, Greenpeace and United Nations/Global Compact were the global NGO leaders in advancing sustainable development with collaboration and stakeholder engagement, and long term commitment being key reasons for their leadership.
- Patagonia overtook Unilever as the global corporate sustainability leader, with IKEA coming in 3rd. Embedding sustainability in core business models and strategy, evidence-based impact/action and clear targets and goals set these corporate leaders ahead of other companies. Last year, Patagonia new ownership structure made Earth its only shareholder.
- From a regional lens, the top 2 leaders were: North America: Patagonia; Microsoft; Europe: Unilever, IKEA; Asia-Pacific: Mahindra & Mahindra (automotive), City Developments Ltd (real estate); Africa & Middle East: Safaricom (telecommunication), Nedbank (financial); LatAm/Caribbean: Natura & Co (beauty), Suzano (pulp and paper).
My two cents: I find this leaders’ ranking quite useful for understanding what ‘good’ practice in sustainability looks like, a goal post to aim for. The key issues also highlight what fellow practitioners globally, view as important sustainability issues. I must admit I was disheartened not to see social aspects of sustainability e.g. labour practices, health, human rights, inclusion, equity, social justice, etc. on the issues. Perhaps it seems obvious that climate, biodiversity, water, forests are inextricably linked to social/people and human wellbeing; or maybe social aspects are more pressing depending on the region/context you are in. It was great to see regional leaders also coming through – the more regional sustainability experts participate in this survey, the richer and more diverse this leader board can become.
Young Africans below 30 years make up 70% of Africa’s population South of the Sahara, and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 aims to achieve an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent for this majority and the generations after them. With numbers like these, young African need to have a say in Africa’s strategic direction.
The AU’s Office of the Youth partnered with the Austrian National Youth Council to set up an African Youth Reference Committee of 25 young Africans and 15 European youth representatives. The AU Youth Envoy has been calling for more representation in key Agenda 2063 priorities e.g. Africa Continental Free Trade Area which will require young African participation and engagement to succeed.
In early July 2023, the 25 member African Youth Reference Committee was announced with representation from all 5 regions of the continent. Over 2000 applications were received from young African creating change in their communities and solving for global inequalities.
The Committee’s one-year mandate is to accelerate participation of young Africans in Africa’s development process, and foster global youth dialogue.
In 2008, The AU Youth Charter (which categorises youth as between 15 – 35 years of age) came into effect. The Charter is a legal and political document that gives strategic direction on African youth empowerment and development at a nationally, regionally and as a continent (theyouthcafe.com). Most African countries have ratified (given consent to, made it officially valid) the Charter, while a few have not.
My two cents: I always find proportion of African youth astounding, and it becomes baffling that, with these numbers, it’s not automatic that youth are a part of or actively involved in key decision-making processes – at government, business, and community levels. When one considers the AU Agenda 2063, and any future thinking and decision-making happening on the continent, surely it’s time for ideas like youth shadow boards, cabinets, etc. to come to life.
In late 2022, Kenya instituted sustainable waste management into law, this law becomes fully operational two years after it was instituted. This is a milestone achievement against pollution and for all Kenyans rights to a clean and healthy environment. Additionally, the law aims to spur economic opportunities in waste management, recycling and enable citizens’ behavior change. Rwanda, South Africa are already leading in this area.
Although much about this law was highlighted in late 2022, as it now being operationalized and will soon be fully operationalized, it seemed worthwhile to highlight key aspects that individuals and organisations will need to put into place.
- NEMA (National Environment Management Authority) will lead in the standards and guidelines, enforcement, knowledge sharing on sustainable waste management.
- County governments are responsible for the devolved waste management function.
- Once guidelines are in place, house-hold waste segregation will be required by law. All entities (private, public) will also be required by law to segregate waste. Not doing so, will be illegal with fines and/or jail terms for non-compliance.
- Every household and all entities must transfer their segregated waste to licensed waste service providers.
- Private entities (as defined by NEMA) will be required to submit 3-year waste management plans, and annual reports on this.
- NEMA will have the mandate to issue restoration orders to polluters, and the polluters will be required to restore the site to its natural state.
- Once NEMA issues the applicable guidelines, producers will have extended producer responsibility obligations in a compliance scheme. Producers are responsible for the pollution/waster in full life-cycle of their products.
The Sustainable Waste Management Act is quite extensive; and a quick Google search will give you various summaries to review. Here’s a review of the Act by Nicco-Law for reference.
My two-cents: Like with anything new, there are probably more questions than answers on the practical implementation of this Act – what it means for a household, an organization, counties, and across different socio-economic and income levels in the country. At the same time, Kenya produces 8 million tonnes of waste annually and this will continue to rise. This national waste crisis does require responsibility and action at individual, organizational, and government level; and law and regulation are a key way to make that happen at scale.