UNEP & University of Nairobi Mark the Paris Climate Change Agreement

On 14 November 2016, the United Nations Environment Kenya, in partnership with the University of Nairobi, marked the entry into force of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The student-led celebration revitalized the role of universities as living labs, centres of excellence in research and innovation to address sustainability challenges; advocated for low carbon campus development; and called for the accelerated transition to clean energy sources, all in line Kenya’s national goals in addressing climate change.

Kenya, a ratified signatory to the agreement, is faced with climate change outcomes such as increased disease and vector incidents including highland malaria and tick-borne diseases; reduced food production due to erratic and pronounced droughts; increased human and wildlife conflicts for resources – grazing and water; habitat degradation and deforestation; and human migration among others. The forum compliments the Kenya Green University Network, the Kenya Climate Change Bill 2016, UNEA 2/3 resolution - Investing in human capacity for sustainable development through environmental education and training, the UNFCCC Article 6 (Climate Education and Training) and the African Environmental Educational and Training Action Plan 2015 - 2024. Kenya Green University Network is a functional network of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Kenya with an aim of incorporating environment, low carbon - climate resilience development strategies and sustainability aspects in their education, training, campus operations and enhanced student engagement.

Key highlights of the Forum

  • Education institutions should have a compulsory multidisciplinary environmental course unit for all students. This should not only be for universities, but also on primary, secondary and mid-level tertiary institutions. This is in line with the SDG 4.7, UNEA 2/3 resolution, the UNFCCC Article 6 (Climate Education and Training) and the African Environmental Educational and Training Action Plan 2015 – 2024;
  • Need for increased responsible consumption behavior that promotes resource efficiency and holistic waste management – SDG 12;
  • Academia, public and private sectors need to promote and mainstream inclusive ecosystem-based adaptation approaches to reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience to climate change impacts, especially within marginalised areas and in collaboration with communities – SDG 13;
  • Need for collaborative action-oriented research on climate change, data generation and analysis on climate change. This can support the UNEP Live and bridge the science-policy interface;
  • The University of Nairobi should strive to be accredited for access climate finances. The already established the Wangari Maathai Institute; the Institute of Climate Change and Adaptation; and Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy to handle environmental and climate change issues should develop a collective proposal to bid for the GEF and GCF, as opposed to departmental proposals;
  • To help prepare the world for the projected impacts of global climate change, disasters and conflicts, harmful substances and hazardous wastes, as well as to assist in reversing and mitigating these and other negative environmental and sustainability trends;
  • Education institutions should have a compulsory multidisciplinary environmental course unit for all students. This should not only be for universities, but also on primary, secondary and mid-level tertiary institutions. This is in line with the SDG 4.7, UNEA 2/3 resolution, the UNFCCC Article 6 (Climate Education and Training) and the African Environmental Educational and Training Action Plan 2015 – 2024;
  • Academic institutions should also strive to access green bonds at the Nairobi Stocks exchange to solve financing issues;
  • Promotion of green building and standards; green spaces and clean development mechanisms (CDM) that would contribute to sustainable cities, communities, and clean energy;
  • Academic institutions are to increasingly and actively engage students in climate technology innovation and ecosystem management in ecosystems and biodiversity conservation; and prevent reduce the risk of natural and man-made disasters. At present, students at the University of Nairobi have embraced the adopt-a-forest and adopt-a-river initiative, led by the World Student Community for Sustainable Development. There is need for upscaling within other institutions;
  • Promotion of climate-smart agriculture that would contribute to a food security; and
  • Call for UN Environment to offer technical support and collaborate with academia in the development of tools, as some are too complex / expensive and do not work well with communities.

Other partners present at the event include: National Environmental Management Authority, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Ministry of Environment, Green Belt Movement, and the Giraffe Centre.