World Biodiversity Day: UK High Commission and Wangari Maathai Foundation Host Youth Café Event at Karura Forest Nairobi
Saturday, 22nd May 2021, marks World Biodiversity Day, and this year’s slogan is “We’re part of the solution.” This slogan comes from the progress made last year under the theme, “Our solutions are nature,” which reminds us that biodiversity is still the answer to many sustainable development challenges.
To celebrate World Biodiversity Day, the British High Commission, together with the Wangari Maathai foundation on Friday 21st May 2021, hosted youth climate and environmental activists at Karura forest in Nairobi. The event was aimed to amplify the voices of young Kenyans and their solutions in mitigating climate change.
The event was also geared towards providing the participants with the opportunity to learn more about the role of urban green spaces like the Karura forest.
British High Commission Initiative: Youth Café
The Youth Cafés are an initiative by the UK government in engaging young climate activists to drive climate change in Kenya. The event began with an interactive discussion session in the Karura Forest Auditorium with talks centered on the UK-hosted UN Climate talks in November and youth’s nature-based solutions to tackling climate change.
A nature walk followed the discussions through the forest, where participants focused on the importance of urban green spaces. Those in attendance included students, journalists, environmental lawyers, and founders of different foundations championing a green revolution.
Also present at the event were Julius Court, British Deputy High Commissioner, and Wanjira Maathai, the Vice President and Regional Director of Africa and World Resource Institute and Friend of CoP26.
Prof. Karanja Njoroge, trustee, Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust, was also present and the event.
The Youth Café is the first in a series of events the British High Commission and Wangari Maathai Foundation plan to hold in the run-up to the November UN Climate talks.
Kenya’s Pledge on Climate Action
There is a rising concern about climate change in Kenya. Projections indicate that the country’s temperature will rise to 2.5ºC between 2000 and 2050, and rainfall will become more intense and less predictable. The slightest increase in drought will present challenges in water availability and food security.
On the 27th International Biodiversity Day in May 2020, the Kenyan government reaffirmed its ambitious vision of planting 1.8 billion trees by 2022. The project was first announced in May 2018, where President Uhuru Kenyatta indicated that the forest cover in the country was still low, and his government was looking to achieve up to 10% forest cover by 2022.
Earlier in January, Environmental and Forestry Cabinet Secretary in Kenya Keriako Tobiko called on the youth in Kenya to join in conserving the environment since they will suffer the most from its destruction.
“We need to see the Wangari Maathai of Kenya from the youth to champion for the environment.” He commented.
Similarly, British Deputy High Commissioner Julius Court speaking at the Youth Cafe event in Karura forest, said. “The voice of young people around the world is so important. The youth are a powerful catalyst for change, and we are deeply committed to involving them in the planning and hosting of the UN Climate talks in November.”
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate the Paris and UN Framework Convention of Climate change goals.
According to UKCOP26, “The UK is committed to working with countries and joining forces with civil society, companies, and people on the front line of climate change to inspire climate action ahead of the COP26.”