Safeguarding Tomorrow’s Environment Today22nd Jun, 2018
Environmental sanity now is a matter of global concern, particularly at a critical point when the World is grappling with the vagaries of climate change.
East Africa economies are highly dependent on their natural resources base—more than 50 percent of the region’s GDP comes from agriculture, mining, forestry, and fishing.
Over the past year alone, severe water shortages brought upon by climate change in many parts of the region were just as unfortunately, counterbalanced with rampant flooding elsewhere. Meanwhile, domestic and industrial pollution, ongoing deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, and poaching have further depleted our resources. As a result, livelihoods of more people today than ever before are more likely to be threatened due to some unforeseen event resource depletion.
Every year, the UN Environment designates a day to refocus the attention of the world over on the pressing concerns that continue to pose grave danger to humanity and its sustainability.
This year, World leaders converged in New Delhi, India on June 5 to mark the 2018 World Environment Day. As is the custom of every celebration, the day was earmarked with a universal theme and this year was no different. Motivated by the urge to rally national governments, industries, communities and individuals to explore other sustainable alternatives, the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution” is a call to action to reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic pollution.
Kenya is no exception to the global discourses around sustainable environmental conservation and the green economy. The National Government, through the Ministry of Environment took the much needed step towards a cleaner environment in August 28 last year when it imposed a ban on the production, importation, distribution and usage of single-use carrier bags which are used in most industrial sectors for packaging of finished commodities and carrying consumables from retail outlets.
The ban progressively took effect as from September 2017, when consumers and manufacturers were faced with the harsh realities of absence of the plastic bags from the market and forced to look for eco-friendly alternatives such as sisal bags, clothing bags and canvas bags.
For the general population, this came as a sigh of relief from the congestion and drainage blockages caused by the litter build-ups that had equally discolored the beautiful natural environs in major towns and cities. But for the enterprises that profited from the unregulated production, the ban was a loss for a source of income. And indeed, it was a form of inconvenience as citizens were accustomed to using these plastics in their daily lives.
Almost a year later, it would appear a lot still needs to be done to ensure full compliance with this law.
A focus on recycling Plastic
The collection, management and disposal of waste continues to feature prominently as a challenge in our towns and cities. In many parts of the country, waste generation is a result of rapidly growing urban population and the changing patterns of consumption and industrialization. Thus, as consumer attitudes towards their responsibility to the planet changes the push for cleaner working and living environment is more crucial.
Social enterprises are leading the way in this front, concentrating and tackling waste management (plastic pollution), chronic youth unemployment, deforestation and climate change. Truly, this is commitment the national government and the devolved units are called to advocate and champion.
In East Africa, our neighboring sister state Rwanda was the only country to have successfully implemented a total ban on plastic use before Kenya joined the bandwagon. The Kenyan national government attempted the ban three times prior to the official total ban in August 8th and with the ban came heavy penalties on defaulters. Therefore, this year’s environmental day is not only timely for the world but for Kenya specifically as the country marks 9 months since the policy was effected.
Plastic bottles and plastic bags are resistant to biodegradation and because of this the long term effects of pollution is far reaching. A recent study conducted by the UN Environment indicated that 2,000 tonnes of the 4,000 tons of plastic materials produced each month in Kenya end up in municipal waste streams and landfills. The Nairobi River is an example of the agonizing testimony to this truth.
But that’s not where it ends. Public and private sector players, as well as individuals have to jointly address the issue of climate change.
As a bank, our focus is enhancing responsible banking practices through improving access to financial services while being a social and environmental lender. KCB Group introduced green financing as a core element of banking practices by embedding environment and social risk considerations into financial decisions.
Within the framework, the bank’s environmental and social management system seeks to assess and understand how clients and customers are managing environmental risks associated with projects they are running. The process is referred to as Environmental and Social Governance (ESG).
KCB Group has purposed to continue conducting due diligence of all its customers and corporate clients in order to ensure qualifying financing projects are in compliance with environmental standards. In addition, we have included the environmental and social risk governance for our clients who have also shared their journey towards internalization of sustainability into their business that has led to their growth.
Moving forward, KCB hopes to finance more clients in the green building, renewable energy and other infrastructure sectors, with an eye at safeguarding a sober environment.
It is our belief that these efforts, combined with continuous improvement towards our goals, will raise our sustainability performance and help all of our stakeholders understand our intense desire for continued progress. We recognize the importance of our work for the future of our business and the communities we serve and we are ready to deliver on our promise to our stakeholders.
Embracing and blending environmental and social aspects of sustainability can enable organisations to drive stronger business performance into the future.
Keeping our environment clean is a collective effort and it is the responsibility of every Kenyan to ensure we safeguard tomorrow’s habitats today.
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