Companies are in a race to hire environment and climate change specialists as they seek to tap a new wave of investments in energy efficiency, sustainability, and waste management.
Kenyan listed companies are also expected to publish their environmental impact reports alongside their financials, prompting a hiring frenzy of environmental, social and governance (ESG) experts.
In a past interview with the Business Daily, Nairobi Securities Exchange regulatory affairs chief officer Loise Wangui said only 10 companies had started reporting on ESG with “some giving fragmented snippets with their stories all over the place so you have to read through to get where the ESG story is.”
Edward Mungai, the lead partner Sustainability and Climate Change at the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), argues that the skillset needed in this new era job is someone who marries the business model of the organisation and the environment.
“A business strategist around sustainability; a person with strategy and financial analysis skillsets, one with a business background and can connect the environment and social aspects,” he says.
Traditionally, companies have expected the government to solve social and environmental challenges, but the private sector has a significant role to play.
“Companies can embrace climate change as an integration of their businesses such that over time they can profit from that phase,” Dr Mungai says.
However, with universities lacking in-depth training on sustainability, the pool for consultants and experts in this new era job is not so big.
Those with the right skill set are reaping big.
“Entry level salary is about Sh150,000 while one with three to five years experience earns Sh300,000 to Sh500,000, depending on what you are bringing to the table,” Dr Mungai says, adding that having climate change consultants on boards is a must so that they can advocate for sustainability in the organisations.
“Additionally, organisations boards must institutionalise sustainability within the strategy committee- people who have the skillset and can speak about climate change and the broader concept of sustainability,” he says.
Nyachomba Kariuki, a climate change adaptation specialist in the Netherlands says that not combating the harmful activities human beings are engaging in has caused a lot of harm to the environment.
Since nature is unforgiving, companies especially in high-emitting industries have been forced to hire climate change experts to advise them on how to reduce their impact on the climate, and also tap into the huge commercial opportunity for the sectors.
An organisation on LinkedIn, for instance, is now seeking an environment and climate change waste specialist to “provide technical waste expertise and investigate new waste management technologies.”
“Adaptability is the only way that the world can take to prepare themselves,” says Ms Kariuki.
For instance, if you are in the production of cereals and there are not enough rains, then you will spend a lot of money on irrigation, passing on the additional costs to the consumer.
However, for the production company to stay afloat, it must hire a climate change expert to advise on switching to a cereal that performs well or change the business model.
Companies are also seeking consultants to train their staff members on the environment, climate change, and waste management.
Ms Kariuki pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and a Master’s of Science in Climate Change Adaptation. She says her job entails developing climate change adaptation plans and policy documents, working with government and non-government organisations to mainstream climate change adaptation in their operations, and designing and implementing climate change monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
Dr Mungai adds that the climate and environment talks are not only limited to boards of organisations but also the NSE and Central Bank of Kenya saying that banks need to have oversight and proper governance of climate change as an example.
Over the years, governments with high-emission industries such as oil and gas, steel, cement and air travel have been criticised for polluting the environment and contributing to global warming.
Mithika Mwenda, the executive director Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) says governments’ negligence is manifesting in the deaths.
“The government needs to focus on building the resilience of communities by helping them adapt to the changes,” advises Dr Mwenda.
Climate change is the most topical issue currently shaping the global social-economic, political, and moral fabric of society hence needs to be integrated and mainstreamed into national poverty reduction and development efforts.
“Organisations in the production sector need to tune their developments so that they do not exacerbate the problem and also transition to low-carbon climate-resilient pathways,” he says, adding that climate change should also be integrated in the curriculum so that children from an early age can be taught how to take care of nature and readily adapt.