There were two seemingly unrelated headlines on the front pages of two newspapers in Kenya this month: intense turf wars regarding the administration of about Sh200 billion that Kenya is expecting as climate finance; and the rising sea level on Kenya’s coast.
Disparate as these two reports appear from the outset, they in fact bear an inherent singularity: the lurking shadow that climate change is posing on our economy.
While distant phenomena exacerbated by climate change - such as the persistent drought in California, and the growing intensity of hurricanes especially in Asia - appear far and away, the challenges posed by climate change are gaining significance in Kenya.
A glimpse of the growing global stature of climate change would suffice to contextualise the need to step up climate change interventions in Kenya.
For about 20 years, global efforts have been geared towards forging an international response to climate change.
A beacon of hope lies on the horizon as the feasibility of having a Global Climate Agreement by 2015 is taking shape. However, international efforts to address climate change remain inadequate, hence the need for countries to shift greater focus to national efforts.
One of the principal global responses to climate change has been the mobilisation of financial resources by the developed countries, to assist developing countries cope with the ravages of climate change, as well as to facilitate the switch to cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.
Currently, there is a proposal, in the draft Climate Change Bill, to establish a National Climate Fund, which will then channel the billions of shillings that will come in as climate finance.
Suffice to say, the real challenge lies in the design and operation of the National Climate Fund, which should channel the funds to assist the most vulnerable populace to cope with the impacts of climate change.
Thus, enshrining transparency and accountability mechanisms in the management of the National Climate Fund will be critical in meeting the objectives of the funds. Ksh200 billion is a significant amount of money that can have transformative impacts if properly administered.
The game changer in effectively addressing climate change in Kenya is devolution. With regard to transitioning Kenya’s economy to be low-carbon and climate resilient, counties stand to play a crucial role.
Thus, taking cue from the growing interventions of climate-proofing the economy at the national level, it will be crucial to extend the same practice to the county governments. Doing so will firmly place Kenya on the pedestal to achieving the objectives of Vision 2030.
The writer is co-founder and director of GreenBits Initiative