Common sense solutions key to tackling climate crisis

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 01:57 | By
Climate change
Climate change. PHOTO/Courtesy

On the eve of COP27 final day, the world inked a superb deal, crowning a hitherto week of uncertain talks and buzzing boardroom sessions. Though contentious, the last-minute deal is a modest climate fix. It offers a lifeboat for poor countries to cope with climate-induced disasters – a step towards global commitment to climate justice. 

Non-State actors and poor countries had hoped for a more giant leap on climate action. And, while we must strive bolder and faster in light of the stark climate research findings, we must place the bigger picture into perspective. It is illogical to call for immediate phase out of fossil fuels. Quitting fossil fuels and finding an alternative concentrated all-green energy is going to be a glacial process.

Until that moment, it will be easier to stick to the status quo while finding, funding and incentivizing on-the-ground, localized nature-based solutions and mundane projects that protect community natural resources and food systems.

States should step up and change the game. They must take responsibility. “Strike at the root.” Take mitigative, regenerative and inclusive action as co-benefits towards achieving net-zero goals.

In Kenya, impressive restorations and conservation actions are already shaping up. There are efforts to set up systems that conserve and contribute to multiple provisioning ecosystem services. What we lack is a National Land Regeneration dashboard – a depository for tracking and monitoring restoration and conservation works across the country. 

We must decolonise the climate sector. Why not develop new sector-specific approaches that give voice to communities? Putting people at the centre of climate action means investing in worthwhile community-led initiatives. Localise climate education. Engage in meaningful participation and shift funding to local levels to realize the value of climate actions.

Aren’t communities more aware of climate context? Isn’t there strong evidence to suggest they have practical solutions and are effective stewards to drive change? More effort is needed to reach and foster robust local decision making mechanisms. 

Common sense solutions are nature-based. Re-wilding our natural world starts with supporting village forests management. Kenya has well-established Community Forest Associations (CFAs) and CBOs working on ambitious community-focused, decentralized participatory forestry and energy schemes. The only challenge is lack of well synergized ecosystem services with clear paths to recovering ecosystem functions such as carbon sequestration, soil formation, water regulation and air quality regulation.

Climate-smart agriculture and smart-farm communication are common-sense agriculture. A context-specific CSA practice such as hydroponic farming has huge potential for sustainable agri-food systems, managing misdistribution while building inclusive climate resilience. It is a proven, frontier approach for sustainable land use, climate-resilient plants, soil desalination and biodiversity protection.  

Smart water management and monitoring system is another innovative climate-smart solution. A paradigm shift at measuring, monitoring, controlling - in real time- and improving efficiency of our water resources and local water schemes. 

Localized natural climate solutions are the most practical pathways to decarbonization. But building a low carbon society requires a new economic paradigm. We must aim to localize our natural capital. Work together. Tap into indigenous knowledge. Get active in the carbon offset market. Go local. Use nature to help communities build resilience to extreme weather events and climate change. This is how we will make a difference.

—The writer is the assistant director (Natural Resources and Forestry Development) County Government of Migori

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