ELIZABETH COOK: Technology and Collaboration for the Good of the Environment

Climate change and the push to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are becoming matters of greater importance. Collaboration is a key aspect of the drive to achieve sustainability for our planet, and technology has a part to play in this endeavour. Just last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stark warning with scientists warning that “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to keep alive any hope of keeping to the goal, established in 2015 as a threshold for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

Prof Ed Hawkins, the report’s co-author and professor of climate science at the University of Reading, said: “We’re already experiencing climate change, including more frequent and more extreme weather events. “The consequences will continue to get worse for every bit of warming, and for many of these consequences, there’s no going back.”

In East Africa, climate change is the most important challenge facing future generations and sadly its already a daily reality in the region, despite East Africa bearing almost none of the historic responsibility for global emissions. Over the past year alone, East Africa has seen drought in Somalia, landslides in Uganda, locust swarms destroying crops in Kenya and Ethiopia and floods across the region, including in Rwanda. 

As a company, we have always been aware of our purpose. While we have the norms and values of most companies, we want to ensure we offer a good place to work, to give professional results and add value to our clients, we however now realise that we can play a much bigger role in society especially with global issues. And the biggest global issue that affects us all is climate change. 

So what can we do in East Africa, to try to turn the tide on this climate emergency? Obviously there are things everyone one of us can do each day to live more sustainably, but there is also an advantage we have, especially in Kenya and this lies with our tech community. 

According to a report from the International Telecommunications Union – a UN body, digital technology could help reduce the world’s carbon emissions by 17%, further revealing that the transport sector accounts for 21% of global carbon emissions, with 73% coming from short journeys.

This means, besides digitalization transforming our economy, it also has the potential to deliver a greener and more sustainable future. Transport service providers are essential in addressing carbon emissions and the associated environmental concerns.

Digital platforms can use technology to achieve a more sustainable transport system. An efficient transport system will lessen the need for private cars. The use of electric and hybrid cars, scooters and other forms of sustainable transport options within cities can accelerate the use of renewable energies and sustainable transportation.

Fintech and payment solutions and platforms can help drive the economy to become more inclusive and socially diverse. Data is extremely vital in understanding and monitoring currently situations in a range of sectors so we can accurately understand the problem and build a plan that is easily monitored and analysed to provide solutions. 

With this in mind, our agency brought together four companies in the tech, transport, data and payments sector to discuss how Tech for Good can work to address some of the effects of climate change. The Tech for Good webinar took place on the 29th of July in Nairobi and it was a hybrid event with some panellists in the studio and some streaming in virtually. Over four hundred people registered for the event and along with representatives from Visa, Bolt, Flourish Ventures and the Global Voice Group, we also had Dr Jane Munga from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology. 

The session sparked debate and it showed the urgent need for greater collaboration between the public and private sector on how important it is to work together to solve some of the environmental and inclusion problems that the region is facing. 

Collaboration therefore across an ecosystem of organisations is the key to unlocking the solutions to offset climate change and work towards a more inclusive and sustainable way of life. Our role was to create a platform to enabled us to convene, tell a story, generate debate and actions that lead to collaboration and while we are not a science focused or tech company, we will continue to offer a platform that enables positive future change in the Africa and beyond. 

Its only by continued discussion, sharing ideas and collaboration for action that we have any chance of trying to adapt and mitigate the negative effects that climate change today and in the future. I know that’s our purpose. We also know that we are a small company, but we have a big heart, and we want to play our part in creating a better world. 

Elizabeth Cookis the Managing Director of Tell-Em Public Relations.

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