What 2024 budget policy means for climate agenda

Thursday, March 28th, 2024 05:53 | By
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ndung'u Njuguna. PHOTO/Dennis Onsongo
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ndung'u Njuguna. PHOTO/Dennis Onsongo

The government recently presented its 2024 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) to Parliament, outlining priorities, initiatives, and development strategies for the coming fiscal year.

This document serves a dual purpose: guiding the government’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and fostering public understanding of national finances. Notably, climate change emerges as a key theme.

In the forward, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury emphasizes navigating global turbulence, accelerating economic recovery, and addressing overarching challenges, including mitigating climate change.

The BPS builds upon BETA with its key pillars: agricultural transformation, micro, small, and medium enterprise development, housing and settlement, healthcare, and a digital superhighway for the creative economy. Aligning with Kenya’s National Adaptation Plan 2015-2030, and Vison 2030, the BPS underscores the need for streamlined climate action across all sectors.

Agriculture: Balancing Productivity and Sustainability: While agriculture is recognised as the backbone of the economy, it’s also a significant contributor to carbon emissions. The government’s fertilizer subsidy aims to improve agricultural productivity. However, timely soil testing is crucial to ensure optimal application and soil health preservation.

The farmer registration initiative presents an opportunity to enhance local climate action. This database can facilitate tracking local efforts, particularly for the ambitious 15-billion-tree planting goal. Geo-referenced data can further monitor progress.

However, collaboration between national and county governments is essential, as agriculture is a devolved function. Recruiting young people to bolster extension services can be effective, but they must be equipped with climate-smart agricultural knowledge.

Building a Climate-Conscious Infrastructure: The development of a digital superhighway should go hand-in-hand with building the capacity of young people. Establishing digital hubs at the ward level can be a major step towards enhanced climate knowledge dissemination.

Similarly, the development of the creative economy should explore how art can contribute to climate change awareness. For instance we should start exploring on how visual arts and performing arts could be used to raise climate change awareness.

This could help tap the youth energy into meaningful action. Beyond Mitigation: The Need for Adaptation: While the BPS mentions climate change mitigation, adaptation takes a backseat.

This is concerning, as most climate challenges faced by Africa and developing countries are adaptation-related.

Notably, the Cabinet Secretary’s message omits mentioning adaptation entirely. Given its power to signal and nudge action, neglecting adaptation can hinder progress.

For instance, the national tree-planting exercise can be reframed as a multi-faceted initiative that builds adaptive capacity and enhances resilience. Agroforestry should be considered a key strategy for increasing tree cover.

Similarly, infrastructure development at the local level must prioritize increasing community and societal adaptive capacity.

Public awareness is crucial in this regard, as informed citizens can shape public opinion, ultimately influencing policy.

Kenya’s 2010 Constitution enshrines public participation in policymaking. Informed citizens aware of the importance of climate change adaptation can leverage the BPS interventions to drive climate action.
Citizen Engagement: Countering “Organized Hypocrisy”

The Central Bank of Kenya’s efforts to nudge financial institutions towards climate risk management are commendable. However, citizen knowledge and engagement remain vital. The BPS sends a positive signal towards integrating climate change concerns.

However, vigilance against “organized hypocrisy” is essential. Continued monitoring of government operations is crucial to ensure genuine and meaningful climate action is implemented.

—The writer is a climate change and food systems communication consultant

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