NEWS: Briefing series launched to communicate climate change to the Kenyan private sector
CDKN Africa’s Claire Mathieson and Maggie Kamau report on an event launching a briefing note series to help the Kenyan private sector manage climate change risks and capitalise on opportunities.
“The private sector has a key role to play in addressing climate change and promoting low emissions development through the adoption of green growth strategies in their businesses.” These were the words of Suresh Patel, Water and Natural Resources Sector Board Member at the Kenyan Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), during an event that launched the ‘Climate Change and Your Business’ briefing note series aimed at communicating climate change to the Kenyan private sector. The briefs were compiled by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) for KEPSA, with support from CDKN.
The launch event was the culmination of detailed analysis on the implications of climate change for five economic sectors in Kenya, and key issues for the private sector related to Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP). The briefs also give guidance on how businesses can finance climate action and measures to climate proof their operations. The briefs highlight the business case for action on climate change, which advocates that the private sector can lessen its risk through planning, and at the same time act on opportunities.
“As countries prepare for the upcoming global negotiations towards a new climate deal, the private sector remains a key partner for the achievement of the overall goal on greenhouse gas reduction. There is urgent need for comprehensive communication to address the climate change challenge as it affects all sectors of the economy,” said Mr Patel, representing more than 100,000 direct and indirect members through KEPSA. KEPSA has developed the Climate Business Information Network (CBIN), a network of interested firms that aims to help the private sector understand the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. In addition, KEPSA was engaged in the development of the NCCAP, representing the private sector on the task force that oversaw the development of the plan.
But what does climate change mean for the private sector? Several business sectors in Kenya – such as agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism – are already experiencing negative impacts from climate change. The success of the action plan critically depends on the support and action of the private sector. From innovative technology and resilient infrastructure design to developing and implementing improved information systems, and making business decisions that address climate risks and capitalise on opportunities, the private sector can help support the Kenya’s plan. Climate change impacts will be felt by every major economic sector and will cut across all aspects of business operations; the private sector has a responsibility to act sooner than later.
But climate change can also be good for the bottom line. Policy analyst Victor Ogalo highlighted that “we need nature, nature does not need us; it make business sense to take care of nature. There are opportunities for the private sector to build a business case to build resilience to climate change and manage liabilities, access new financing streams through international climate finance, grow their market share and create wealth in communities, and finally to build their corporate reputation.” Benefits for businesses can be internal through reduced costs, improved recruitment and retention rates, competitive advantage and improved brand value; as well as external through reduced carbon emissions, reduced pollution, energy independence and job creation.
The briefing notes include three case studies that demonstrate how Kenyan companies are gaining a competitive advantage by taking action on climate change. East Africa Breweries Limited began producing a sorghum-based beverage, which is cheaper and more drought resistant than imported barley, the traditional input. 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.
The briefs show how Kenyan businesses can respond to climate change in ways that are aligned with core business strategies and create value, including:
Operations: Businesses can assess climate risks and impacts, and prepare for future climatic changes. Actions can include addressing anticipated resources shortages or supply chain disruptions, and ensuring infrastructure and equipment can withstand expected climatic changes, particularly extreme weather events.
Businesses can transform their operations through actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including increased energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy alternatives (like the Kenafric example above). Another example is Safaricom, which has turned to solar energy to power some of its cell towers located in regions that receive abundant sunlight.
Products and services: Businesses can innovate and modify their products and services to meet the new and developing market demands created by climate change. Kenyan firms are producing, assembling and distributing energy-efficient products such as improved cookstoves and efficient lights; sustainable energy technologies such as solar and wind; and mobile phone applications that enable farmers to access insurance products and make claims. An example is Kilimo Salama, which makes insurance policy payments through M-Pesa to farmers when drought or excess rain negatively impacts harvests.
Social investment and philanthropy: Businesses can identify ways to establish a strategic link between their core strategies and investments that improve communities’ ability to adapt to climate change. For example, the Kenya Tea Development Agency has worked with the Ethical Tea Partnership to help farmers become more resilient to climate change by infilling with drought resistant tea varieties, conserving biodiversity to increase the resilience of ecosystems, and promoting improved cookstoves to help reduce deforestation.
Advocacy and public policy engagement: Businesses can seek to engage national and county governments on climate change issues related to competitiveness and business opportunities.
‘Climate Change and Your Business’ briefing note series:
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