The World Environment Day is commemorated each year on 5th June and is the principle vehicle through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment. The World Environment Day theme selected for 2012 is Green Economy; Does It Include You? The Day was set aside by the UN General Assembly to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on Human environment with the realization of the importance of the environment in supporting development. The day has since been set aside for creating awareness and educating the public on the importance of the environment and the need to conserve it.
Green Economy has been described as the economic growth that reduces carbon emissions and pollution, while enhancing efficient use of energy and resources. Carbon dioxide comprises one of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming which results in variations of weather patterns leading to climate change. Past economic and growth has been largely driven by energy obtained from the combustion of fossil fuels which leads in the emissions of greenhouse gases especially carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases cause global warming which results in weather variations and climate change. This type of economic growth has also led to over-exploitation, depletion and degradation of natural resource capital namely natural resources and ecosystem goods and services. This has caused widespread degradation of ecosystems and loss without allowing adequate time for stock of natural resource capital to regenerate.
As such, the transition to green economy is vital and aimed at safeguarding the natural resource base and upholding sustainable development. The transition to green economy places more emphasis on reducing carbon emissions and depending largely on clean renewable energies. However, green economy does not replace sustainable development but takes cognizance of sustainability of natural resources base. In this regard, appropriate domestic fiscal measures and policy reforms must be put in place.
Green initiatives comprise of activities, investments in cleaner production technologies and compliance to environmental regulations. In line with these, the Authority has gazetted various regulations aimed at promoting environmental conservation in the country. These include Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Audit regulations, Waste Management regulations, 2006; Biodiversity regulations and Noise regulations among others. Am glad to mention that NEMA launched sound metres that will enable enforcement of noise pollution. Under the NEMA Green List, the Authority awards the best institutions that work towards efficient use of resources and contribution towards a green economy.
These efforts collectively create a positive impact to environmental management and economic growth. In Kenya, the World Environment Day is commemorated through a range of build-up activities. These include; Mazingira Runs, Mr. and Mrs. Environment Competition, Art and Essay writing competitions, Go Green Expos, Tree planting activities, clean – up activities, Corporate Green Week among others.
These activities are aimed at promoting environmental education, awareness and public participation to all citizens. The WED event attains several objectives each year namely; awareness creation on priority environment issues ,provides a platform for public education and awareness on the value of the environment, assists in prioritizing environment agenda in the country and influencing a positive change , attitude and behavior towards the environment. Green economy involves activities that reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere resulting in improved human well being and social equity while reducing environmental risks.
Key Policies Supporting Green Economy
Green Economy advocates for efficient use of natural resources while initiating green initiatives that can lead to the creation of jobs to create employment and alleviate poverty. In this regard, the Government has put in place progressive policies that support various sectors to collectively implement actions and interventions that address poverty alleviation thus laying foundation to a sustainable future.
For instance the Economic Stimulus Programme was recently formulated and implemented to catalyze activities that spur economic growth. This was as response to the existing global financial meltdown. The ESP has so far provided support for projects at all levels mainly in fish farming, poultry keeping, bee keeping, dairy farming and tree planting among others.
The Youth Enterprise Fund on the other hand has supported the youth to initiate projects and expand existing efforts thus creating employment. On the other hand, the Women Enterprise Fund has also created micro-financing for women groups thus creating economic power for women and creating a positive impact to the livelihoods of many families. Similarly, the Poverty Eradication Fund has also been applied in creating positively socio-economic development of the country. Within the Livestock Sector, the Njaa Marufuku Kenya Initiative was introduced to support registered groups to engage in livestock raring and enhance their livelihoods. All these policies have transformed the lives of many Kenyan people through expansion of economic activities, job creation and improve livelihoods.