Africa Sustainability Hub will promote low-carbon opportunities

A new African sustainability research hub will make a “huge contribution” to promoting low carbon economic development in Kenya, according to a speech on Wednesday 10th June by Hon. Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury. The speech was delivered by Prof Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, at a workshop on Low Carbon Development in Africa held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Cabinet Secretary noted: “Globally, the business case for green economy development is getting stronger day by day; hence, there is an urgent need for both the private and public sectors to position themselves to tap into the opportunities to be provided by this paradigm shift… The Low-Carbon Development in Africa workshop comes at an opportune time as it seeks to contribute to the low carbon development agenda.”

The participatory workshop convened African research users from the private sector, civil society, research and government (including several high level delegates from the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi and the African Union).Together these research users defined the Africa Sustainability Hub’s agenda for future work and articulated a clear mandate for the hub to initially pursue three key activities:

  • A pan-African programme of comparative research addressing a range of existing knowledge gaps on low carbon energy access. In particular, demand was expressed for research that looks beyond the usual focus on engineering and finance to encompass socio-cultural considerations, the self-defined needs of poor people and the politics of low carbon energy transition.
  • Training for finance ministries on accessing international climate finance and opportunities to merge climate finance and finance for development agendas.
  • Training for African negotiators on strategies for engaging with the UN climate negotiations in Paris in December 2015. In particular, there was interest in working with African negotiators to help them understand the relevance of one particular policy proposal, based on past CDKN funded research in Kenya, which seeks to extend the UNFCCC’s Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) via the introduction of CRIBs (Climate Relevant Innovation-system Builders) at national levels in low-income countries (see this open access paper in Climate Policy for more detail).

The research users participating in the workshop also lamented the lack of any pan-African platform through which research users can articulate priority research needs – a role that the workshop had fulfilled for those present and one that they would like to see sustained. On this basis, as well as conducting world class research, the Africa Sustainability Hub will also work to fulfill this pan-African convening role for research users.

The Malawi High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Perks Ligoya, also welcomed the launch of the Hub. As government representatives to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), he suggested that Hub partners should contribute to framing the debates within the UN and other fora. “We can set agendas, not from New York, but right from here, based on your findings”.

The Africa Sustainability Hub forms one of six regional hubs that make up the Pathways to Sustainability Global Consortium. It is hosted at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in partnership with the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Africa Centre (SEI Africa). The Consortium was convened by the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technical and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre, a partnership between the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) and the University of Sussex (Science Policy Research Unit, SPRU and the School of Global Studies).