The Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB-K); the knowledge Centre at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the WWF Kenya, a leading independent conservation organization, have partnered to host a private sector dialogue on environmental sustainability.
The event that was held in the capital Nairobi brought together various business leaders to discuss the contribution of the private sector towards the conservation of the environment, and start to explore how to collectively tackle the ecological crisis.
In her remarks during the opening of the event, the Director, Sustainable Inclusive Business Karin Boomsma noted that the partnership with WWF Kenya is anchored on the premise that the private sector has an important role to play in driving a resilient and sustainable economy.
“We are part of nature. It’s our home among other living species. For this reason, businesses must improve their impact on the planet, not as the nice thing to do, but as a responsibility to positively impact the planet and people. The future proof business DNA is green,” Ms. Boomsma said.
“To scale sustainability initiatives, there is a need for those organizations making efforts to communicate their actions and enable key decision-makers and business leaders to see the considerable social and economic benefits of positive climate action. This partnership is part of our efforts to facilitate the business community to tackle the looming climate and ecological crisis and in doing so help secure the future of business itself,” added Ms. Boomsma.
In Kenya, several leading organizations have already set-up the structures and frameworks as they focus on transitioning to a more sustainable society in the wake of climate change.
Under the Paris Agreement, Kenya committed itself to tackle climate change. Its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which builds on the 2013 Kenya Climate Change Action Plan, pledges to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2030.
WWF Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Awer noted that the event provides Kenyans and especially the business community with the opportunity to have a conversation about the topics raised and the possible solutions.
“Efforts to engage the private sector in adaptation to climate change are beginning and we are happy to partner with Sustainable Inclusive Business to accelerate this discussion,” Mr. Awer highlighted.
The highlight of the event was the virtual screening of the ‘Our Planet: Our Business’ film. The documentary, which is an adaption of the popular Netflix series
Our Planet, reveals how we could create a future where people and nature thrive together. The episode focuses attention on the urgent need for collaboration between businesses and scientists on behalf of our planet. The screening of the film and discussions aim to trigger a conversation and action by organizations to incorporate environmental sustainability as one of their strategic focus areas.
Key speakers during the event included Karin Boomsma, Director Sustainable Inclusive Business, Isaac Awuondo, Board Chair WWF-Kenya & Chairman NCBA Kenya; Emily Waita, Coca-Cola Central, East & West Africa Public Affairs & Government Relations Leader; Vimal Shah, KEPSA Foundation Trustee & Chairman BIDCO Africa; Arnolda Shiundu, Kenya Breweries Head of Sustainability & Community Engagement; and Julius “Juliani” Owino, Kenyan HipHop Artist & Entrepreneur.
In his remarks, Isaac Awuondo challenged the business leaders to take the lead on climate mitigation and adaption initiatives: “I urge all business leaders in Kenya to pump in more investments in order to create a positive change to our environment and treat nature much more kindly,” Mr. Awuondo said.
Similar views were echoed by Vimal Shah the Chairman of Bidco Africa, who underscored the role of the private sector on climate mitigation initiatives.
“We need to accept the reality that we are responsible for the cause of damage as humans and we also must take responsibility to heal the planet by reducing our contribution to the damage. Both corporates and individuals must align with nature and its needs for a sustainable and healthy future,” Mr. Shah noted.
On her part, Arnolda Shiundu said that climate change presents an existential threat for humans and a looming crisis for the economy: “For businesses to thrive, they must be sustainable. This is because our continued existence as the human race is dependent on the planet’s survival. Thus, we must go all in, leaving no one behind, to inspire new ways of working that can be adopted not only at industrial level but also at community levels,” she said.
While Emily Waita emphasized that climate challenge is now a development challenge and involving the private sector is essential for multiple reasons: “The private sector has a clear and vested interest in environmental sustainability. We are well-positioned to deliver solutions for the world’s biggest challenges while we protect the planet and unlock new business opportunities.”
Julian called on the business community to reimagine the people, planet, and profit nexus.
“I see the world as a home not just as a resource. And I believe that for businesses to become sustainable, they should not just see customers but see them as people. Because a business is as strong as its connection to its people and surrounding,” the popular artist noted.
Environmental degradation is on the increase with the disposal of plastics not only affecting the cities but also posing a risk to the soil and marine life. The different speakers, therefore, unanimously underlined the need to act and find synergies between sector actors to drive the desired change.