The World Climate Simulation Exercise
November 6th to 17th 2017 is a week of commemoration geared towards climate change, namely world climate week. Through the conjoined efforts between Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Strathmore Business School’s Centre for Sustainability in Leadership and Climate Interactive; and Strathmore University, thirty-three youth were branded as Climate Change Ambassadors at the end of the World Climate Simulation Exercise 2, held at Strathmore Business School on November 10th, 2017.
The simulation exercise was framed by current climate change science, using the interactive C-ROADS computer simulation which allowed participants to find out how their proposed policies impact the global climate system in real-time. The procedure entailed giving the participants a closer and realistic view of the ongoing 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - which was taking place at the headquarters of the UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn, Germany - run by the Government of Fiji. The ‘delegates’ were expected to integrate and hold discussions amongst themselves. The states represented ranged from developed, to developing and least developed countries. This involved role-play exercises from each delegate taking into account their social, economic, environmental and political status as a state which was geared towards arriving at amicable SDG number 13 under the umbrella Climate Action.
Each state had to discuss at length the year in which they would reduce emissions, the annual reduction rate, the percentage at which they would put efforts geared towards preventing deforestation and afforestation. Lastly, they had to discuss their contributions and requests from the Green Climate Fund. The whole goal of the exercise is to keep the temperature increase on our home planet below 2 degrees Celsius. Indeed, the negotiations procedure were not only gruesomely long but, a show of the reality surrounding the ongoing UN negotiations.
As research would have it, the youth in Kenya comprise the majority of the general state’s population. This being the case, it was apparent that awareness on climate change is lacking amongst them hence the necessity to train and educate the attendees. The means to do this was through having the interactive Model UN exercise, this gave the participants a first class seat to understanding the necessity behind COP 23 and to understand the ramifications behind the decisions they make as a state.
An interesting outcome that came about was from the delegate representatives of the states, China and the United States of America; both failed to compromise and arrive at an amicable solution. Given the facts at the time being that, China was the recorded as the state with the highest emissions of greenhouse gases and the United States of America being recorded as being a developed country with the capacity to provide funding through the Green Climate Fund. However, in this instance was unwilling to provide the funding due to their withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The key lesson received from the exercise was that states all over the globe need to take up unified strategic efforts towards climate change adaptation and mitigation. This during the exercise was lacking since states had different ideologies on the effects of climate change. This in effect was reflected since the states were unwilling to participate in combating climate change hence the difficulty with coming up with a durable solution at the end of negotiations.
The Current Kenyan Situation
The youths after leaving their role play as delegates were able to discuss at length the current impact of climate change in Kenya as a state. The participants became well aware that climate change is compounded by local environmental degradation caused by illegal encroachments, deforestation and livestock grazing. An example discussed was the country’s forest cover, for instance, which had fallen from 12 percent in the 1960s to 2 percent.
Similarly, the participants were brought closer home, to the Strathmore Community. After discussions, they were able to come up with simplistic projects which are aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions within Kenya and the Strathmore Community. To mention a few, these included taking advantage of government resources and setting up projects which are geared towards going green such as pursuing the green belt movement's activities e.g. planting trees.
The participants agreed with the World Bank ideology that the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, environmental stewardship, social inclusion – carry across all sectors of development, from cities to agriculture, infrastructure, energy development and use, water, and transportation. The question facing countries, cities, corporations, and development organizations today is not whether to embrace sustainable development but how.
The outcome of the proceedings was that 33-dedicated youth were branded as Kenya’s Climate Change Ambassadors. Climate Interactive is in the process of recruiting and training eligible Climate Ambassadors to become facilitators who will train other ambassadors in the months to proceed this is expected to be done in conjunction with the Center for Sustainability in Leadership. As for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth, their aim is to set up partnerships with youth organizations in Kenya which have an SDGs initiative in their mandate. More specifically SDG no. 13 which aims to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
What did the participants say?
Melody Malusi’s view on the exercise was that “looking for ways to decrease the amount of CO2 emissions in the world after being grouped. I loved this because it opened my mind and made me think outside the box. It also made me feel as if I was actually in that meeting which made me feel empowered”.
Beth Kyalo a participant mentioned that she enjoyed “the grouping session ...it was nice to share ideas on how we can curb the issue of climate change”.
Martina Nino another participant appreciated the discussions, “as it furthered my knowledge on climate”.
Olive Mumbo is the Kenyan Campus Coordinator representative for Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth and Strathmore Business School - Centre for Sustainability in Leadership. She is a final year law student awaiting to graduate from Strathmore University. Olive's numerous passions include taking up initiatives related to Sustainable Development Goals and promoting the rule of Law. With her current post, skills and keen interest for diversity she intends to involve the Kenyan youth in decision making and planning in SDGs in the country.