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FEATURE: Making the business case for addressing climate change in Kenya

In Kenya as in many other places, businesses frequently say they are overwhelmed by the scope and complexity of many climate change issues.

With CDKN support, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), ClimateCare and the Environment Cost Management Centre, have developed a series of case studies and reports on climate change. These briefings answer frequently asked questions from businesspeople, such as: “Why should the Kenyan private sector care about climate change?” and “Why is the National Climate Change Action Plan’s implementation important for private sector interests?”

In partnership with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) these materials have been distributed to its alliance members. KEPSA is the apex body for private sector advocacy in Kenya. Its membership stretches to over 100,000 businesses, consisting largely businesses membership organisations from a range of sectors and corporates.

Deborah Murphy from IISD says: “We’ve managed to introduce a conversation into KEPSA. KEPSA has increased its level of understanding on climate compatible development whilst becoming a more skilled conveyor of messages, specifically from the National Climate Change Action Plan, to its members.” The project also assisted KEPSA in outlining how climate change fits into their broader business strategy, and thinking through their strategic position as a platform for private sector engagement with the government on climate change.

“The private sector is a critical player in Kenya’s climate change response,” said Ms Carole Kariuki, CEO of KEPSA. “The work with CDKN has helped KEPSA to inform and educate its membership on climate change business risks and opportunities, as well as engage as a vocal and constructive force in the policy process.”

The briefing notes developed with CDKN support were disseminated through two business breakfasts and a media briefing meeting. The briefing notes include three case studies that demonstrate how Kenyan companies are gaining a competitive advantage by taking early action to lessen the negative impacts of climate change on their businesses. For instance, the Kenya Tea Development Authority is increasing the resilience and productivity of smallholder farmers by infilling with drought-resistant tea varieties and promoting improved cookstoves. East Africa Breweries Limited has improved its bottom line by using local sorghum, which is cheaper and more drought resistant than imported barley, in its low-cost beverage. Kenafric, a large manufacturer of confections, food, footwear and stationary, has managed to reduce its electricity consumption by 30%, saving over US$ 200 000 annually through energy efficiency actions.

“The message emerging from the Kenyan private sector is clear,” said Deborah, “Climate-friendly innovation in Kenya is driven by cost considerations and can be good for a business’s bottom line.”

The briefing notes demonstrate how private sector leaders can approach climate change as an opportunity and competitive advantage. Mr. Suresh Patel, Chair of KEPSA’s Environment, Water, Forestry and Water Board, underscores: “It is critical that the private sector engages more fully and sees the battle against climate change not as a burden but rather an economic opportunity.”

Lessons from the project highlight the importance of understanding the relationships between big corporates, sectoral associations and apex associations when considering climate change- related interventions in the private sector. Corporates have narrow interests but may offer opportunities for very focused climate change interventions and ‘on the ground’ actions leveraged by their own internal resources. Sectoral associations can encourage climate compatible action, especially in sectors where there is a high degree of cohesion, organisation and alignment of interest amongst corporates. This may allow interventions that can have transformational effects at the sectoral level.

KEPSA, an apex body for private sector advocacy in Kenya, provides a multi-sectoral perspective on climate change. Moving forward requires that KEPSA works to establish a niche as the overarching association providing information on climate change. In addition, KEPSA can leverage its influence as a politically well-connected advocacy group to increase its foothold in the climate policy space. This would build on KEPSA’s membership on the Task Force that oversaw the development of the NCCAP, and the National Task Force developing the national climate change policy and bill expected to go before parliament in June 2014.

Building the internal capacity required for continued influence in the climate change space requires that KEPSA make a good business case to potential development partners. “Attracting more support from development partners is essential for sustaining the next phase of climate change-related work for KEPSA,” says Ms Kariuki. Achieving this will require strong champions within KEPSA, a clear direction from the leadership, and an allocation of internal resources.

For more information visit the CDKN project page.

Image courtesy of Jens Vinsrygg

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