The global climate change agenda is at a crossroads, following the recent announcement by the United States that it will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.
This has brought into scrutiny the future of the commitments made by governments.
Under the 2015 Paris agreement, nearly 200 nations had pledged to limit world temperatures to a 2C (3.6F) rise on the pre-industrial era.
Beyond the murmurs over the future of the Paris Agreement, what is it that all of us — individuals and corporates across East Africa — must do to guard the environment? Is all lost in the climate change agenda? No.
Many of us grew up with the common admonishment that money does not grow on trees.
Parents use this line especially when explaining to their children that money does not come easy.
But, truth be told, money does grow on trees; and on all the gifts that nature provides freely.
Let me explain. Businesses exist to earn a return. This can only happen if they invest.
A farmer has to plant to reap. A bank customer has to deposit in order to withdraw. It is the same with our environment.
Unfortunately, mankind has been using resources from the Earth at an unsustainable rate and we will soon reach a tipping point.
Population pressures, urbanisation, industrialisation and our carefree attitude have contributed to environmental degradation.
If we push the ecosystem to the brink, nature will stop providing the raw materials and support to run our businesses.
Nature is generous but can be unforgiving.
We are now witnessing nature’s ugly side with climate change and extreme weather patterns becoming regular — exposing our collective failure to protect the environment.
In Kenya, we are feeling these effects. The last two years have experienced depressed rainfall, and devastating drought.
It is critical to address the challenges today to secure the future.
If we want to grow our business, we have to do so sustainably.
We are now, more than ever, paying attention to the big energy shift for our survival.
The shift from wood to coal and which then gave way to crude oil and natural gas that now run our economies took decades.
The time has come for us to shift to renewable sources.
Sound businesses continually take stock of their assets to know where they stand.
Businesses and individuals must take stock of the positive and negative impact on nature and the environment.
Globally, financial institutions are leading the way in aligning their business to environmental sustainability.
At KCB Group, for example, we seek to be a sustainable bank.
We know that this is the only way to ensure business success while contributing towards economic and social development, a healthy environment and a stable society.
KCB was recently nominated by the National Treasury to be accredited for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to a tune of US$50 million. Given the urgency and seriousness of climate change, GCF is meant to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set to combat climate change.
The Fund will contribute to the achievement of the ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In the context of sustainable development, the Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
We are committed to meeting our business needs today without compromising the lives of future generations.
Our sustainability framework outlines various strategic initiatives, from 2015 to 2020.
This includes responsible lending, incorporating environmental due diligence before giving out loans.
We are managing energy conservation by reducing consumption through utilisation of green energy and intelligent building technologies.
A good example is our new 21-floor headquarters in Nairobi’s Upper Hill – one of the region’s ‘greenest’ buildings.
It uses natural light during the day and is fitted with solar panels to reduce consumption of electricity.
It has smart technologies to regulate consumption of water and energy, and has incorporated water harvesting.
We are also at the forefront of exploring issuance of green bonds to raise capital in support of environmental and climate related projects.
Like other businesses, we are cutting down on the amount of paper we use, and reducing the need for travel between subsidiaries by using e-board meetings. Every little helps.
Oigara is KCB Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director