June 5, 2020 - Reading Time: 3 minutes - By Abigael Ndanu

Kenyan Industry Captain appointed to lead the UN Global Compact

Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact at Safaricom, has been appointed as the Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact. She is the second woman to be appointed after Lise Kingo of Denmark. Ms Ojiambo has led Safaricom in Sustainability since 2010, cultivating key relationships with business and civil society, and has also done capacity development work in Somalia with UNDP and CARE International. She holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota, USA, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Development from McGill University, Canada.

IMF warns that COVID could hamper Africa’s climate change response

Sub-Saharan Africa will be hit 60% harder by extreme weather events than other emerging markets, according to a recent study released by IMF. Adapting to climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa would require between $30-$50 billion per year for the next decade – equal to about 3% of the continent’s GDP. IMF noted that pre-emptive adaptation would be less costly than post-disaster relief efforts.

New IFC Findings

The International Finance Corporation today released a new study of impact investments, which finds the market has swelled to approximately $2tn. The IFC, which does its count of impact assets differently from the Global Impact Investing Network, found that the vast majority of the assets ($1.5tn) come from development finance institutions (DFIs).

Per the IFC report, the total invested in private impact funds (those that seek to achieve a social or environmental impact in addition to financial returns) is about $415bn. And, strikingly, only a small number of those funds actually measure the impact they have.

However, Philippe Le Houérou, chief executive of the IFC, expects that to soon change. His group has been working with numerous other organisations in the impact market to develop standardised metrics to help investors gauge how these funds deliver.

“We believe that the potential market is huge. We put that number last year at $20tn,” he said. “But for that to materialise, you need to make sure that you have clear guidelines and principles and standards .  And that is what we started to do.”

UN leading the ‘Race to Zero’

The pandemic may have forced the UN to postpone this year’s climate summit until 2021, but it is still pushing for worldwide decarbonisation, with a ‘Race to Zero’ campaign launching today.

The initiative seeks to get companies and cities to join the growing list of countries pledging to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Nearly 1,000 companies have made such pledges, and the UN is announcing more joiners this morning. Strikingly, the list contains numerous companies in “hard to abate” sectors such as concrete manufacturing and aviation.

Currently, the UN estimates that the entities (countries, cities, companies etc) that have made net-zero commitments represent approximately 23 per cent of the world’s emissions. This means there is still a long way to go, but it is important not to diminish how quickly progress is being made.

Pressure Mounts Over IEA

On June 18, the International Energy Agency is scheduled to release a world outlook report focused on how governments can develop coronavirus recovery plans around clean energy. But businesses including Ikea and insurer Zurich believe the group is not doing enough to steer the world towards limiting global warming to 1.5C.

In a letter to the executive director Fatih Birol, the organisations urged the IEA to recommend a managed phase-down of fossil-fuel production and fossil-fuel subsidies, among other things.

The companies made a similar plea last year, noting that a strong report emphasising that clean energy will dominate in the future sends a message to government leaders and serves as a tool for “bold action”.

IEA committed to continue to developing and deepening its analysis in 2020 and beyond.

Grounds for Climate Optimism

Jeremy Grantham sees glimmers of hope for the environment in the Covid-19 crisis. Mr Grantham is widely for having called several downward turns in global markets — sometimes early but mostly lucratively is also known for his data-driven warnings about the costs of accelerating climate and environmental changes.

He says, people have been reminded of the case for preparedness — not just against pandemics but against the damage caused by climate change.

In his opinion, ‘the kind of reckless ignoring of anything except the next year or two has come at a high price.’  He cites the number of lives that could have been saved by early testing as a stunning demonstration of the return on preparedness.

Mr Grantham view, “Maybe the slap in the head from Covid will work” to make the world take the steps required to sustainably manage climate change.

Ban on Single Use Plastics takes effect in Kenya’s protected areas

On the occasion of World Environment Day, following a presidential directive, visitors will no longer be able to carry plastic water bottles, cups, disposable plates, cutlery, or straws into protected areas including beaches, national parks, conservation areas and forests. This measure follows the 2017 nation-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. A new trend report launched by Sustainable Inclusive Business shows an 80% success rate and reduced polythene bags along Kenya’s coastline, parks and drainage.

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