‘Getting’ Kenya’s climate change financing landscape

By Geoffrey Odhiambo

Climate change is a global phenomenon with severe implications for vulnerable countries like Kenya. It requires urgent and inclusive action from governments around the world. For context, for years, Kenya has experienced the adverse effects of climate change, including increased temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events. 

Luckily, the country has been actively pursuing climate financing strategies, anchored in a robust legal and policy framework in an effort to combat climate change challenges, promote sustainable development, and build resilience. 

Kenya has been witnessing the detrimental impacts of climate change on its ecosystems, economy, and communities. The country’s agricultural sector employs a significant portion of the population and is highly vulnerable to climate variability and extreme weather events. 

With erratic rainfall patterns and prolonged droughts leading to reduced crop yields, food insecurity, and economic instability, the big question is whether climate change poses risks to water resources, wildlife habitats, and coastal areas, exacerbating existing environmental challenges. If the ever rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns also affect public health, contributing to the spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever, it means Kenya requires substantial financial resources to address the challenges posed by climate change effectively.

Climate finance entails local, national, or international financing from public, private, and alternative sources to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement all advocate for financial assistance from countries with more financial resources to those with fewer and more susceptible resources. This acknowledges that countries’ contributions to climate change and their abilities to prevent and manage its repercussions differ significantly. Mitigation requires climate financing because large-scale expenditures are necessary to reduce emissions considerably. Climate finance is also vital for adaptation, as enormous financial resources are needed to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Clean environment

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees the right to a clean and healthy environment.  To operationalise its enjoyment, one legislation enacted was the Climate Change Act of 2016, which provides a comprehensive legal framework to guide climate change management – the Act establishes the Climate Change Fund to mobilise financial resources for climate change projects and initiatives. 

Significantly, the fund recognises the importance of mobilisation of domestic financing for the country to allocate its resources towards climate change-related activities. It has strengthened coordination and facilitated the disbursement of climate finance at the national level. It is at the back of this that some county governments, notably Garissa, Isiolo, Kitui, Makueni and Wajir, have also established County Climate Change Funds (CCCFs) that identify, prioritise and finance investments to reduce climate risk and achieve adaptation and mitigation priorities. 

Moreover, the private sector has begun to play a role in climate financing, with businesses increasingly investing in clean energy projects, sustainable agriculture, and eco-friendly technologies. This trend reflects the growing recognition that climate change poses risks to business operations and that transitioning to a low-carbon economy can be economically viable. 

At the global level, Kenya has made progress in accessing funds from international climate financing mechanisms. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has, for example, supported several local projects, including investments in renewable energy, sustainable land management, and climate-smart agriculture. 

GCF provides financial resources to developing countries to assist them in adapting to climate change and transitioning to low-carbon economies. The fund has also provided grants for projects focused on climate change adaptation in vulnerable sectors, such as agriculture and water management. These international funds are vital in supporting efforts aimed at addressing climate change and build resilience.

Securing financing

Despite progress, Kenya faces various challenges in securing adequate climate financing. Limited technical capacity, complex administrative procedures, and a lack of awareness among stakeholders can hinder the effective utilisation of available funds. Insufficient coordination among government agencies, non-governmental organisations, and private sector entities also poses challenges to the successful implementation of climate change initiatives. 

To overcome these obstacles and improve investment in climate-related projects, let us leverage opportunities to enhance climate financing by strengthening public-private partnerships. Innovative financing mechanisms, such as green bonds and impact investments, can also unlock additional resources for sustainable development. 

By promoting renewable energy, sustainable land use, and disaster risk reduction, a country will contribute to its broader commitment to global climate action. To mitigate the impacts of climate change and chart a path towards a sustainable and climate-resilient future, implementation of climate change initiatives, sustained financial support and collaborative efforts between the government, private sector, and civil society ought to be given a heavy prominence.  Writer is a programme officer and economic expert at the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists.

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