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Jul 15, 2019

An Evening of Reflection as ASPK Walks, Talks Sustainability

The Association of Sustainability Practitioners in Kenya (ASPK) yesterday evening held their second meetup this year at Sarova Panafric Hotel. The event convened by Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) brought together practitioners from leading corporates in Kenya, civil society, students and lecturers. 

Participants got an opportunity to share their experiences in embedding sustainability not only at corporate levels within their institutions but also in their individual lives.  

What sustainability really is

The United Nations (UN) defines sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept gained credence after the UN in 2015 shifted its development focus from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. These are 17 goals with 69 targets that are now the yardstick for international development and are meant to be achieved by the year 2030. Governments, civil society, the private sector, the academia and all players in development matters are supposed to align their initiatives along the SDGs in order to achieve shared prosperity.

Sustainability brings in the elements of innovation; climate action; sustainable production and consumption patterns; reduced inequalities; strong institutions among others. The thinking should not just be on profits alone. We should also mind about our planet and her people now and in the future.

What are corporates doing in Kenya to achieve sustainability?

KCIC spearheaded the formation of ASPK in 2018 in order to have a platform for sustainability practitioners in Kenya to network and learn from each other. During   yesterday’s dinner meetup, KCB Bank’s Sustainability Manager Harun Mukiiri reiterated their commitment towards sustainability which include green financing and sustainability reporting. He emphasized that in their sustainability reporting, they outline steps undertaken towards long term business success while ensuring inclusive growth through innovation, economic and social development as well as a stable society. The bank for instance now screens for the right social and environmental parameters on loans prior to disbursement         .

“For organisations, sustainability should not just be left for a department. Every staff should be involved so that they work towards it,” Mr. Mukiiri emphasized.

He also noted that that as a company, KCB’s standards are aligned to the global goals and already, they are running away with SDG 1 on ending poverty. As such, their products such as Tujiajiri and Lions Den are meant to eradicate poverty. 

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Victoria Macharia, Sustainability Coordinator at Coca-Cola said sustainability for them as a commercial entity is about reducing carbon footprints; ensuring zero waste; working towards women and youth economic empowerment; and building meaningful partnerships with the government and other stakeholders as a step towards achieving sustainability. 

 “Sustainability should not be confused with CSR (corporate social responsibility). We for instance build partnerships and empower communities from the surrounding areas where we produce Dasani and Keringet water brands,” said Victoria.

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Coca-Cola Company also has an initiative geared towards sensitising schools, colleges and other institutions on waste recycling so that all plastic bottles that are taken out are collected and taken back to the plant for recycling.

Onboarding the youth

Other participants also shared their experiences in sustainability initiatives and enumerated their favourite among the 17 goals. Youths from higher learning institutions particularly appreciated KCIC’s efforts in reaching out to them, terming it a good step in enabling them hone their skills and get enlightened on sustainability issues.

ASPK Secretary General Susan Njoroge, who is also the Head of Sustainability at Standard Chartered Bank said the association will continue engaging members and collecting views as they roll out recruitment on a larger scale through the country.

By Vincent Ogaya

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