This year’s World Environment Day comes just after very definitive summits held in Nairobi: Africa Climate Summit (ACS) in Nairobi, Kenya, from 4th to 6th September 2023; and Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit from 7th to 9th May 2024, both at KICC. These two summits did climax to the Nairobi declarations which largely focused on climate change action, land restoration, and behavior change towards climate change. The declarations align with 2024 Environment Day’s focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience under the slogan “Our land Our future. We are #GenerationRestoration.”  In this same spirit, during the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) 2023, our president H.E William Ruto, the African Climate Champion committed to:

  1. Develop and implement policies, regulations, and incentives aimed at attracting local, regional, and global investment in green growth, inclusive of green and circular economies.
  2. Strengthen actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, deforestation, and desertification, as well as restore degraded lands to achieve land degradation neutrality; and implement the Abidjan declaration on achieving gender equality for successful land restoration.
  3. Redouble our efforts to boost agricultural yields through sustainable agricultural practices, to enhance food security while minimizing negative environmental impacts.
  4. Further enhance our inclusive approach including through engagement and coordination with the children, youth, women, persons living with disabilities, Indigenous people, and communities in climate-vulnerable situations.

At the recently concluded Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health summit, our Government committed to: Reverse land degradation and restore soil health on at least 30% of degraded soil by 2034 through the following actions:

  1. Deploy innovative incentive mechanisms – including repurposing current subsidy programs – to encourage soil health investments by smallholder farmers.
  2. Promote integrated soil and water conservation, planning, and management practices across agricultural sub-sectors and landscapes/ watersheds.
  3. Promote investments in irrigation as part of integrated soil and water resource management for enhancing nutrient-use efficiency and climate change resilience.
  4. Strengthen national, regional, and international collaborative research and extension systems to tackle soil health challenges and improve the quality of support to smallholder farmers;
  5. Promote organic agriculture practices to improve soil health alongside conventional agriculture.

The government launched an ambitious campaign to plant 15 billion trees in ten years from 2022 in a bid to reach 30% tree cover in Kenya. The campaign aims at reducing greenhouse emissions, stopping, and reversing deforestation. In 2023 and 2024, the government led the public to two public National tree planting days in which Kenyans engaged in tree planting activities. It is not easy to tell if those trees are growing as of today. To restore our environment and for all climate action to count, efforts on behavior change and the attitude of Kenyans towards the environment and climate action need to change. The attitude needed for tree planting and tree growing is different, tree growing attracts an attitude of responsibility, accountability and sustainability. From the Presidency, Public and state officers, through to the local mwananchi, “the hustler”, we need to renew our thinking and behavior on our environment. With effort on behavior change, our careless dumping of waste and refuse will be responsible, thus reducing pollution, clogging of drainage, and unnecessary urban flooding. With a change in attitude on the environment, manufacturers of plastic, food, plus agricultural inputs will embrace climate-friendly processing, packaging, and marketing. In the same spirit, farmers will be responsible to embrace climate-smart and regenerative agriculture technologies, thus improving soil health, food quality, and thus good human health. With change on behavior to embrace accountability, all the above-mentioned commitments cum policies will take shape with prudent allocation, spending, and utmost implementation of the agreements or plans. With such a change of attitude by leaders not to see the commitments as profiteering opportunities at the expense of the commoner, then we will actually have a safe and sustainable environment for present and future. Change of attitude messages will inspire patriotism and responsibility of the citizenry to conserve, protect and manage the environment. Only by attitude change will all citizens be inspired to voluntarily begin planting and growing trees plus flowers right from home, not to wait on national calls to plant trees. Our climate actions and interventions must center on the Planet, People, and Peace for Progress. The writer; Kelvin Keya Is a climate-smart agriculture enthusiast and Executive Director at Change for Planet Foundation

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