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!
The 2023 WEF report was release in a global context of socio-economic risk and geopolitical tensions. The world is focused on ‘survival’ of today’s issues: cost of living, social and political polarization, food and energy supplies, tepid growth, geopolitical confrontation, and others according to Saadia Zahidi, MD of the report.
Over 1,200 experts contribute to the report, which highlights critical points and risks that needed to be considered worldwide towards a new direction for a resilient sustainable world.
The visual below summarises the key risks the world faces collectively:
Cost of living was highlighted as the key risk for the next two years, and the coming decade will be about environmental and social risks.
The report also highlighted that a new economic era is afoot – with the potential for more disparity between rich and poor; and the decline of human development for the first time in decades. Additionally, geopolitical instability will exacerbate risks in both the short and long term.
My two cents: These are the times that we live in – and we know it. Although it will be inevitable that we focus on the short term risks, the long term risks (and they are already shouting out for attention) cannot be ignored. It is a balance of both. Because the risks can be (and are) real, preparedness and partnership across stakeholders will be essential for finding solutions for and dealing with these risks ahead. Will we start to understand that we are stronger together than we are apart?
The 20th annual feature from WRI shared hopeful news for 2023 towards a more sustainable future. Things often look so bleak, so here are four exciting developments to keep an eye on this year:
- Green energy transition continues growing globally – In 2022, green energy grew 8% and many see the global energy crisis as a positive spur towards renewable energy growth. Separately last year, Francesco La Camera of the International Renewable Energy Agency even said that “Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today.”
- Global commitment to conserve 30% of the world’s nature by 2030 – The world’s countries/leaders made a commitment to protect 30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters by 2030. This agreement was reached at the UN Biodiversity Conference held in December 2022.
- Loss and Damage fund for a just transition – This was a big deal at COP 27 for developing countries (+80% of world’s population). The fund is to provide financial assistance to countries most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change. The fund is a while away from being operational, but the agreement is a positive step in global dialogue and cooperation on the realities of climate change.
- The USA’s just economic transition – last year the US passed climate legislation to support a low carbon, climate-friendly economy and society. These legislations will invest into the US economy annually creating jobs, boosting the economy and reaching underserved communities. For example, the Inflation Reduction Act will cut US emissions by 30-40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
My two-cents: It makes sense to focus on solutions, on the positive – find this news does give me hope. Perhaps too much energy, time goes into focusing on the negative; rather than what is being done and can be done. A change in perspective for 2023.
This hefty publication is produced by the Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institute. The report highlights that global shocks e.g. Russia’s war in Ukraine, global inflation, and C-19 will continue to impact the continent this year, yet Africa is resilient.
The Economic Intelligence Unit predicts the continent’s growth by 3.2% this year, primarily driven by mid-size economies – Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya which are estimated to grow by 5-7% in 2023.
The report presents advise for policy makers – which is insightful for business/private sector as well:
- Increase domestic revenue and spend more efficiently – Africa’s average tax to GDP is lower than other regions at 16.5%. Asia Pacific is 19.1%, Latin America & the Caribbean 21.9%, and OECD countries5%. Expanding tax resources e.g. from real estate, the sugar industry, and carbon are opportunities, and moving away from large scale generalized subsidies to targeted ones e.g. for technology, social protection programmes, infrastructure, research and development are far more efficient for government spending. There are also opportunities to leverage commodity windfalls and develop local and regional financial markets anchored in savings.
- Enable African entrepreneurship – policy makers need to formalize their domestic private sector with fair, transparent and stable regulatory regimes. Policy makers should also enable private sector to close gaps in energy, infrastructure and digital infrastructure.
- Uplift Africa’s youth – investing in youth is fundamental. Countries need to address the learning crisis by strengthening education systems. Providing jobs by leveraging TVET programmes and apprenticeships in partnership with private sector to meet labour market skills is critical.
- High fertility rates – tackling the continent’s high fertility rate which increase household consumption and reduce investment per capita in human capital needs to be addressed. Family planning, keeping girls in education, and women’s participation in the labour force will be key strategies for this.
- Accelerate the AfCFTA – building intra-regional trade, connectivity and markets is critical to the continent’s deglobalisation, resilience and prosperity.
- Invest in Africa’s renewable and green energy mineral deposits – global demand for these resources is growing rapidly. Policy makers must have clear strategies to develop these resources and investments, including value-addition strategies for local benefit. Revenue management of these resources to benefit citizens will also be key. Additionally, policy makers should consider regional coordination in negotiations to mitigate pressure from multinational companies.
My two cents: Africa’s potential and future is bright – it always has been. The continent has always had its people and resources to prosper. Now what we need is the political will to make prosperity real for Africa’s citizens. There’s a ‘new scramble’ for Africa, and this time, Africa must be prepared and ready.
A bill is in review to become an act that will ‘establish a benefits sharing system in natural resources exploitation between resource exploiters, national government, county government, local communities for connected purposes.’
The bill defines natural resources as: sunlight; water resources; forests, biodiversity and genetic resources; wildlife resources; industrial fishing; and wind.
The bill outlines its guiding principles as: transparency and inclusivity; revenue maximization and adequacy; accountability and participation of the people; rule of law and respect for human rights of the people; sustainable natural resource management.
The benefits sharing framework provides a revenue sharing model:
- 20% of revenues collected will go to a national sovereign fund. Where in turn, a) 60% goes into a future’s fund for future generations, b) 40% into a natural resource fund for current social and economic development and rehabilitation of depleted natural resources.
- 80% shared between national government and county government. Of this 60% will go to national government. Of the county governments 40% share – at least 40% must go to the local community projects, and the remaining 60% to benefit the entire county.
Kenya has also developed a draft national biodiversity strategy and action plan 2019-2030 (NBSAP 2019-2030) – this plan was developed as Kenya does not have a national integrated strategy and action plan on biodiversity.
My two-cents: The UN Biodiversity conference in December 2022, has finally brought focus to protection and conservation of nature. We can easily forget that nature is the only thing we actually survive on – without it, it’s game-over. The natural resource bill and national biodiversity strategy it seems are yet to be signed, sealed and delivered into national legal and operational apparatus, let alone into action. Time waits for no one. Lest we forget, we owe a lot to local communities in supporting them to protect nature – land, water, oceans, ecosystems, etc. – that we rely on. Will government leaders do the right thing for our nation’s and our peoples’ benefit today and for the future?