Karatina University was privileged to host the 1st series of 2020 Public Lectures on Friday, 17th January 2020 at the Conference Hall, Main Campus with a talk by an eminent Climate Change expert, Dr. Richard Munang, currently the Africa Regional Coordinator for Climate Change at UNEP. This is part of the wider university mission to strengthen and anchor as the driver of global environmental agenda having rebranded as The Green Entrepreneurial University. The lecture was in line with our strategic location and other green initiatives already established and implemented towards the “Green University”.
Dr. Munang’s presentation was titled “From Extreme Vulnerability to Competitiveness: Changing the Narrative of Africa’s Development Under the Changing Climate”. Dr. Munang is guiding the actualization of UN Environment’s climate resilient development strategy for Africa through coordinating implementation of diverse projects in key economic sectors especially agriculture, and energy as well as informing strategy and policy development from project lessons. He is also the Africa Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) coordinator in-charge of the strategic and operational roll-out in over 40 African countries.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Munang appreciated that Karatina University is the greenest university in the world based on his assessment as a widely travelled global scholar. His talk concentrated on the matters of climate change, exposing the extreme vulnerability that the world is in due to global warming that has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality. The emphasis was on leaving no one behind as countries aspired towards the realization of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and for Africa, our Agenda 2063 that inspire transformation for everyone.
Inviting Dr. Richard Munang to Karatina University was fronted through our collaborative partnership with UNEP. The UN body of Environment has recognized Karatina University as one that perpetuate the global environmental issues that mitigate against climate change. This is our contribution as a university and as per our vision of “Inspiring Innovation and Leadership”. The impacts of Climate Change have already resulted to severe storms and floods, prolonged rains and droughts, raging fires, new and emerging infectious diseases and the compounding threats to food security. If action is not taken, climate change will define the health profile of current and future generations, will challenge already overwhelmed health systems, and undermine progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Against this backdrop, Dr. Munang painted a sympathetic situation of increasing vulnerability in the world, with examples of soaring unemployment among the thousands of youth globally. He emphasized that in Kenya, just like the rest of the world, vulnerability is manifested in drought, floods and food and nutritional security through its effects on food availability and quality, access, and distribution. Climate change has exacerbated malnutrition, reducing nutrient availability and quality of food products.
The point of departure from the earlier gloomy review in his lecture was the realization of abundant opportunities available in efforts towards mitigating climate change. This, he advised would be through innovating on climate resilient actions, products and purposes that would attract the global funding available in trillions of US Dollars. He urged Karatina University students and staff alike to identify and innovate in synergistic strategies including innovation in solar driers, reversal of food losses in value chains and other economic fundamentals that will address societal problems. This also encompasses equipping people with relevant skills and knowledge to provide adaptation measures to meet food security such as greater investment in crop diversification and integrated agriculture-aquaculture practices.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Munang emphasized that Human Capital can be the force to drive Climate Change especially the talented skillful youths. He urged the audience to look for opportunities available in climate change. He reiterated that to achieve meaningful action towards Climate Change, there is need for selflessness and collectiveness.