Why climate change has now turned into a race against time


People walk at the green zone of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 9, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

At the Sharm el-Sheikh COP 27 Conference in Egypt during the first two weeks of November of 2022, world leaders gathered again to discuss the effects of climate change.

The same old narrative of taking urgent action and sounding alarm dominated the talks with developing counties decrying the same issues of lack of political goodwill from developed nations in funding their climate change initiatives as promised in earlier conferences.

Leah Namugerwa, a 17-year-old climate activist from Uganda, challenged world leaders “Politicians: When you stand up to talk, my generation requests that you speak like there is an emergency."

Leah emphasized the injustice young people face inheriting a climate-change-damaged Earth. Being low on industrialisation, developing nations suffer the greatest effects of climate change through release of greenhouse gas emissions of other countries into the atmosphere.

Most nations are aiming to net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050 by investing in clean sources of energy in their industrialisation journey while Africa still lags behind as it struggles with other pertinent issues affecting their economies and citizens.

The adverse effect of climate change has made Africa vulnerable to droughts, famines, flooding, human-wildlife conflicts, and wars between communities and nations, among other calamities.

As a result of limited water access, the source of livelihood for many people has continued to diminish increasing poverty levels The biggest win from COP 27 was the resolution for addressing climate justice through loss and damage funding to developing nations from the severity caused by climate change which we continue to cross fingers that it will be implemented.

Water is a key aspect in climate change as effects are seen through severe droughts and famines, wildfires causing massive destruction, unprecedented floods, rising sea levels affecting human and marine life, poor drainage and sanitation causing diseases and death.

The Horn of Africa is currently facing one of the worst droughts in over 40 years with 22 million people facing starvation as a result of failed rainfall. Flash floods were experienced in Algeria last year causing massive destruction of properties and deaths. South Africa and Nigeria were not left behind with flooding and landslides causing power outages for days grounding operations in most parts of these countries, displacement of masses and outbreak of water-borne diseases.

The nexus between water and energy, food, health, sustainable cities and infrastructure shows the interdependence of various sustainable development goals thus calling for concerted efforted between various stakeholders if any or most of the SDGs are to be achieved by the year 2023.

As a co-developer and investor in private water-climate initiatives, KIFFWA ensures that all its projects meet the threshold of climate adaptation and mitigation standards.

A good example is our hydropower project in the Central part of Kenya. In this project we have also embarked on afforestation and protection of the water tower of Mount Kenya, which is the source of the river for our hydropower project and the water supply for many. This is part of climate adaptation and mitigation measures.

As part of our sustainability agenda, we work collaboratively with our consultants, lead developers, investors and other relevant stakeholders to continuously assess the environmental, social and governance impact of the projects we invest in.

We do this through annual ESG reporting to assess the impact of our projects on the environment in which we operate in. This forces for collective responsibility and accountability among all our stakeholders towards climate action.

Duncan Onyango is an Expert on Climate Change at the Kenya Innovative Finance Facility for Water (KIFFWA).