Growing up, in our science class from primary to high school, we were taught about the effects of pollution and the possible solutions.
Depending on where you went to school, it was a mandatory requirement to tend to the school compound. Planting trees and dropping our waste in dustbins as part of keeping the environment clean was our daily dose of learning.
Where, then, did we miss the mark in management of pollution? Why does it take rocket science to dump empty water bottles and bags in bins as opposed to throwing it off a moving bus? Save for the ugliness the plastics spew, it is disgusting to see cattle eating trash strewn on the roads – the very same beef fry we shall order with a side of ugali.
When did we become so lazy as to point the finger at the County Government, which has presumably hired people to clean up after our mess? We have so chocked our world we can’t even breathe! The ban on plastic bags has been applauded by, arguably, the highest policy makers on earth who have convened for the United Nations Environment Assembly at the UN Nairobi headquarters in Gigiri.
The move to ban plastics brought us one-step closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals that touch on the environment. I sincerely hope that the three-day conference will offer fool proof conservation measures to last a lifetime.
Although this is a high-profile event, we are all stakeholders in caring for the environment.
Let us turn our focus to air pollution and global warming. In an argument fronted by Keren Ndere of Matungulu Girls High School during a session of The Great Debaters Contest, global warming accounts for 20 per cent of the global increase in water scarcity. Nearly 3 billion people are affected by water scarcity in the world. She felt that the enemy is overpopulation, global warming and pollution, and therefore called for steeper measures to be taken against those encroaching on water catchment areas such as the Mau Forest, even as we strive to repopulate the forests in Kenya.
This encroachment has also been attributed to the search for land to cultivate on. According to the UN, 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, with 52 per cent of the land used for agriculture being moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.
Austin Kabera of Nyeri High School urged for more attention to be paid to agroforestry initiatives that would support the world to manage air pollution- and perhaps boost our carbon credit. (A carbon credit is a permit that allows a country or organisation produce a certain amount of carbon emissions and that can be traded if the full allowance is not used).
Going by the statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food production will have to increase by over 60 per cent by 2050 to meet the increasing global demand for food, as the world’s population bulges to 9.3 billion people.
The world needs to pick up on carbon trading, and offer more incentives for economic benefit of corporates that strive to earn their credit. Corporate companies such as KenGen are feeling the pinch of slow earnings after registering Sh57 million from carbon credits in 2017, down from Sh91 million in 2015, earning nothing in 2016.
My wish is that after the Assembly has met, the County Governments in Kenya will walk the talk with conservation and recycling measures. We should be able to hold them to account for this progress. Let us incentivize our children, by rewarding environmental conservation efforts.
(Emily is the Head of Communications at Arimus Media Limited)