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 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chane was published in late February 2022. It highlights the interdependence of climate, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human societies. Here are some (unfortunate but need-to-know) highlights from the report:
- There us a greater than 50% likelihood that global warming will reach or exceed 1.50C by 2040 (13 years from now).
- Human-induced climate change has already:
- Altered ecosystem structures in across the globe, in all regions, continents
- Caused species range to shift on all continents and regions
- Altered changes in cyclical and seasonal patterns for climate, plant and animal life
Climate change has already resulted in: Increasing water scarcity, reducing crop production and food security. Increasing human health and wellbeing impacts such as rise in infectious diseases, malnutrition, and displacement/migration. It is also impacting cities, settlements and infrastructure with increase flooding, damage to coastal areas, infrastructure and damage in key economic sectors. Today, approximately half the world’s people live in environments highly vulnerable to climate change; as human and ecosystem vulnerability are interdependent.
Between now and 2040, even if we take the necessary actions to reduce and mitigate global warming, the impacts of the damage that has already done will still be experienced. This means that we will have to trust the process – take the urgent action needed to change our societies and economies, even though the results of these actions won’t be evidenced until after some years. Earth’s feedback system won’t happen in a flash (like our human minds think). So we must trust that we will get to the results we need to… trust the process.
To adapt to climate change, the report highlights that it is vital we look at:
- Forest conservation, protection and restoration;
- Agroforestry, and biodiversity and ecosystem connectivity
- Green infrastructure and ecosystem services
- Resilient power systems, and energy reliability
- Disaster risk management, and climate services e.g. early warning systems
To achieve adaptation, our global, regional and national financial systems, governance, institutional and policy systems must adapt quickly to overcome the range of constraints these systems present to timely and relevant action. Worldwide climate resilient development action is more urgent now than previously assessed.
My two-cents: In your organisations, it is vital that climate change risk and mitigating climate change are priority agendas for the next decade. In your own personal lives, you also need to act e.g. grow trees, reduce your energy use, car pool, save water, start your own vegetable garden, eat less meat, don’t waste anything, etc. Every individual action will make a difference. If not you, then who?
In late February 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence for EU and EU-based companies. The proposal aims to foster corporate respect for human rights and the environment throughout global value chains. This proposal is critical as about 80-90% of environmental harm of EU products may occur in value chains located outside the European Union.
The directive aims to:
- Improve corporate governance integration of risk management and mitigation processes of human rights and environmental risks and impact including those from value chains
- Avoid fragmentation of due diligence requirements
- Increase corporate accountability for adverse impacts
- Improve access to remedy for those affected by adverse human rights and environmental impact of corporate behavior
This directive highlights that despite efforts of voluntary action by companies, it has not resulted in large scale improvement, and as a result the negative externalities from EU production and consumption are being felt inside and outside the EU.
My two-cents: The EU is taking a leading role in demanding accountability and action from companies on their social and environmental risks and impacts, not just in the EU, but wherever they have operations and value chains (globally). The ‘looseness’ of regulation, due diligence and accountability in developing countries and their fragile institutions is being buffered – climate change and inequality affects everyone, eventually. If/when adopted EU Member States will have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.
AFRICA: Africa’s mRNA Vaccine Hubs
Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will receive the technology to produce mRNA vaccines for the African continents – its +50 countries. C-19 vaccines are the priority, but in time – depending on their own (or African) capacity and resources, these countries will also be able to produce other vaccines for the region’s public health needs.
mRNA technology is the latest technology in vaccine development. It involves a type of molecule with the ability to deliver specific instructions to cells, teaching the cells to create a harmless piece of a protein belonging to a specific virus. This then triggers the immune system to make antibodies to destroy and attack the virus protein when you are actually infected with the virus.
Although the technology has been around since the 1990s it’s first use in vaccines was with C-19 i.e. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
In February 2022, AU Heads of State approved Kiswahili as an official language of the bloc. Before adding Kiswahili, the AU and its institutions official languages were: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and any other Africa language…. (the dots are here intentionally).
The African continent is the most linguistically diverse continent with over 1500 languages. Kiswahili was proposed as an official AU language in the early 2000s but the proposal did not succeed at that time. Thanks to Tanzania’s Vice President, Philip Mpango, and his request; an African language is finally an official language for the very first time.
Kiswahili is currently spoken by +100 million Africans making it the most spoken language on the continent. It is also the most recognized African language internationally. UNESCO designated 7th July as World Kiswahili Day. Kiswahili also played an influential role as a pan-African language in during the African independence and liberation movements and dialogue for many of the continent’s independence activists and leaders.
My two-cents: Language is an essential bridge to connecting people; allowing for conversation, exchange of ideas, expressing our perspectives on our similarities and even differences. Language is part of identity, and perhaps Kiswahili will now play a role in shaping pan-African cohesion and dialogue. It is to me, a first step towards the possibility of better understanding. We must create possibilities for future generations, not just ourselves.
In Oct 2021, the CBK issued guidance for the banking sector to integrate climate-related risks among the risks banks are exposed to, and if these risks are material, banks should set aside capital.
Banks will now integrate climate-related risks into:
- Governance – at board and senior management levels
- Strategy – embedding climate considerations into their short, medium, and long-term strategy and plans
- Risk management – credit, market, liquidity, operational, legal, reputation and strategic risks
- Reporting their climate-related risks to CBK on a quarterly basis as of September 2022
Africa is and will be the most impacted continent by climate change, and Kenya will be one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world due to climate change (CBK guidance p.3).
My two-cents: CBK is steering Kenya’s businesses and economy toward a more climate-friendly and resilient economy. If you haven’t heard about this guidance, ask your bank because sooner rather than later, your company’s environmental and climate-related risks may soon determine your ability to access capital (where money goes, change flows).
For +20 years, Edelman has studied trust – the currency of relationships globally. Trust in institutions – business, government, NGOs and media – with their stakeholders. As one of the countries surveyed, a country report was produced for Kenya.
In this year’s Barometer, Kenyans viewed government and media as divisive forces, fueling distrust, and that government leaders and the media purposely try to mislead people with false or grossly exaggerated information. Concerns about fake news and false information has risen and distrust is becoming the default. Circles of trust are shifting and becoming more local and community-based. Kenyans in urban areas are more distrustful than rural-based Kenyans.
There is much more trust in NGOs and businesses; with Kenyans seeing business and NGOs as the institutions able to solve societal problems. People now have a greater expectation on business’ role in society, with NGOs and businesses expected to take a leadership role and get results on societal problems.
My two-cents: The power of citizens is growing, and businesses are expected to benefit society – solve societal problems, it’s not about only profit anymore. Purpose, why your business exists, will influence whether your business will thrive or not in Kenya’s future.