Advocacy can help world to tackle climate change


Activists protest at the COP28, Dubai, in 2023.

Photo credit: File

The term ‘climate change’ has become part and parcel of our day-to-day conversation, particularly due to the frequent occurrence of unusual and extreme weather patterns. Recent events, such as the devastating heavy rains and flooding in Kenya and the broader East African region, highlight the immediate impacts of this global phenomenon.

A United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) report states that at least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land are lost to desertification yearly due to human activity and the prevalence of greenhouse gas emissions.

This phenomenon, which affects up to 1.3 billion people, leads to prolonged droughts that disrupt agricultural activities. Land degradation is advancing worryingly fast, dealing a severe blow to socioeconomic stability.

There is, therefore, a dire need for climate advocacy. Stakeholders should come together to advocate the swift implementation of policies that effectively address climate change. Climate advocacy efforts include the first Conference of Parties (COP 1) in Berlin to the latest, COP28, in Dubai, which resolved to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. From the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement in 2015, attempts have been made to bind nations to eco-friendly commitments.

Mitigation measures

But despite these and other mitigation measures that have continually been discussed, the world is still dealing with the adverse effects of climate change. It's time we assessed our commitments against our progress and determined the measures needed to ensure that we fulfil our promises.

If followed through, the commitments made would elevate our mitigation and adaptation efforts and gradually get us to the point where we aspire to be. The biggest hindrance to reaching our target is accountability; we are not following through with set commitments, hence the need for advocacy.

As we commemorate this year's World Environment Day today, the call is for us to accelerate land restoration, drought resilience, and progress against desertification. I believe that climate advocacy can help us to reflect on these elements.

In Kenya, the public and private sectors have made efforts to address land restoration, drought mitigation, and desertification. For land restoration, the government has an ambitious plan to plant 15 billion trees by 2030, which is an attempt at landscape restoration by rehabilitating and conserving depleted forests.

The national tree-planting initiative has given us an opportunity to contribute to this great cause in restoring the ecosytems. Still, there remains a lot of work to do, and there must be constant awareness if we are to achieve the desired tree cover.

Together, let us restore our land. Our future. Let us be 'Generation Restoration'.

Ms Basiye is the director, Sustainable Business, Social Impact & the Foundations, at Safaricom PLC.