Wanjira Mathai: Climate Finance is the biggest issue at COP 27


The Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Wanjira Mathai, stressed that climate finance is the biggest obstacle to innovation.

In an interview with Switch Media during the Ashden Awards ceremony held on Thursday, October 27 in Nairobi, the environmentalist reiterated that the forthcoming COP27 in Egypt should have resolute plans put in place to ensure good sustainability and adaptability on climate change mitigation.

Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Wanjira Mathai, stressed that climate finance is the biggest obstacle to innovation. File/COURTESY.

Mathai said that COP27 should prioritise the financial issue so as to give innovators leeway to fight against climate change.

Being the keynote speaker at the event, Wanjira Mathai asserted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be realized if sufficient funding is allocated to support the innovations.

“The biggest priority is to make sure that we can put the financing that’s required behind the innovations for climate and make a difference, especially as things are getting worse.”

“Climate finance is the biggest issue at CO 27, and then enough broken promises. We need some real implementation, real delivery timelines, Details of how this finance will be done.”

“We are told that 2030 is sort of the date by which a lot of things need to happen, but actually we are seeing quite a lot of devastation already and communities need to be able to adapt. They need to be able to put in place whatever, is needed to secure them and their lives.”

She added that a shortage of financing prevents humanitarian organizations from taking action on some climate-related issues.

Wanjira advised that the Governments should be constantly reminded of the tremendous global warming and severe drought.

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“I think it’s crucial that humanitarian organizations get the resources they need. They are actually woefully short; they don’t have all the money they need to deliver the support and the humanitarian support that’s required. So children are getting fewer calories than they need, and that’s disastrous.”

“For governments, this is a wake up call on climate. This is the reality. This is going to be our future. Five consecutive years of failed rains what does that mean? It means climate change is here now. So we have to adapt.”

Wanjira suggested that the government devise strategies to guarantee a plentiful supply of food during and after difficult times in the wake of the nation’s food deficit.

“We have to find ways of making sure that we can secure food supplies even in this terrible time. That might mean looking back at food crops that we have since ignored and making sure that we can actually secure our food supplies from a shorter distance so that we don’t need to be relying.”

Due to Kenya’s reliance on Ukraine as its primary source of resources, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put its food supply in jeopardy.

“Many of us face the reality that we rely on Ukraine for a lot of things we didn’t know every single day. Now we need to realize how important it is that we secure our own food and our own food supplies, and we need to make sure that we do so. Shorten those supply chains,” Wanjira stated.

The environmentalist hovever lauded the Ashden organization under the CEO, Harriet Lamb for organizing the Ashden Awards 2022 ceremony, saying that it is a cornerstone for innovation and a route to carbon neutrality that also creates chances for green jobs.

“The Ashton Awards are extremely futuristic because they have envisioned renewable energy long before people were talking about it like we are today. We now know that the energy sector has to be completely decarbonized if we’re going to make it to 1.5 degrees or above. So that is, for me, extremely inspiring. And we continue to see year after year really amazing innovations, especially from younger and younger people. So that’s really wonderfully inspiring.”

The ceremony, hosted by Kenyan human rights lawyer Cynthia Nyongesa, brought to life the stories and solutions of organisations creating the future and premiered powerful films showing the winners’ work.

Speakers included Jane Kimani, director of East Africa Operations at Angaza which won an Ashden Award in 2018; Amer Alkayed Steering Committee Member from Global Refugee Led Network; Julius Court, British Deputy High Commissioner; and Pamela Sittoni from the Nation Media Group made their views about the importnace of the Ashden Awards 2022 ceremony.

Among the winners of the Ashden Awards, four were from the African continent while three were from the western world.

In Kenya, Kakuma Ventures are bringing access to the internet to people in refugee camps using clean energy, creating jobs, and boosting education whilst SokoFresh help farmers reduce post-harvest losses through solar-powered cold storage and market linkages.

For their work to improve energy access and develop skills, Togo’s Energy Generation and Zimbabwe’s Zonful Energy were declared joint winners in their category.

ASRI, a forest-based project in Borneo, Indonesia, won the natural climate solutions award for supporting indigenous communities to reverse illegal logging with an ingenious chainsaw buy-back scheme

Runners-up were also celebrated for their innovative work and included Imece Initiative, Turkey; Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CINI), India; Eca-Amarakaeri, Peru.

The winners of the Ashden awards 2022 will also attend the global Ashden Awards ceremony in London on the 2 November joining three UK award winners.

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