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Stakeholders to host the 7th Annual circular economy conference

Sustainable Inclusive Business Kenya (SIB-K), a knowledge centre under the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), will partner with TheRockGroup (TRG) and the European Union to co-host the 7th Annual Circular Economy Conference to take place on 26th October 2022 in Nairobi.

The conference, which will happen ahead of COP27, 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, will bring together governments, private sector players, bilateral partners, civil societies, academia, and individuals from across Africa and internationally, to provide an understanding of key ingredients in a successful roadmap to a circular economy.

It will highlight the challenges, trends, and opportunities in Southern and East Africa in creating a new circular system, and is financially supported by the European Union (EU) in Kenya, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through its BIODEV2030 project.

“Through our various projects, KEPSA remains at the forefront in ensuring that this transition is achieved in Kenya. We are excited to be part of the Circular Economy Conference because it brings together both public and private stakeholders to collectively scale up action, especially through dialogue, innovation and investment. This will form the basis for increased partnerships for the goals,” underlines KEPSA CEO Ms. Carole Kariuki, adding that the transformation is in line with the African Union Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the commitments to reduce carbon emissions expressed in the Paris agreement.

“This partnership will provide the European Union in Kenya with a platform to interact with Kenyan businesses and organizations pioneering the path towards a green, sustainable, inclusive, and circular global vision to local impacts and actions. In the run-up to the COP27 climate meeting, to be held in Egypt from 6-18 November 2022, thus making it the first African climate COP, we will need to mobilise all of our joint powers. Businesses are an integral part of the implementation of the sustainability agenda,” says Katrin Hagemann from the European Union Delegation to Kenya.

A circular economy aims to change the paradigm of the take-make-waste model by reducing the environmental impact, keeping resources in use, and increasing efficiency at all stages of the product economy. To achieve this, public-private-community partnerships are key, as they enable the merging of insights around industry and people’s needs and policy developments.

“While much has been discussed on the environmental or social benefits of nature-based solutions (NbS), less attention has been paid to their economic potential and their role in contributing towards more sustainable and just societies. NbS offers an innovative tool in a new circular economy model. NbS takes various forms, including green and blue infrastructure initiatives like forest and wetland restoration, regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, and urban forestry. By combining the ‘grey’ (built) solutions with ‘green’ hybrid initiatives, NbS can facilitate a transition to a circular economy that can support the sustainable management of the environment with a reduced carbon footprint,” added IUCN’s Charles Karangwa, Regional Head, Land Systems and Country Representative, Kenya.

Africa has an opportunity to transform its economy into a circular, sustainable and ethical business environment and create jobs, boost MSMEs, and improve gender equality. Governments, civil society, the private sector, and other institutions play a crucial enabling role in shaping and supporting this transition.

“Circular economy won’t just happen; it will wait until everyone takes individual and corporate responsibility and requires intention and design. It requires a change of mindset and a transformation of businesses and communities. This partnership has been guided by this common understanding and ambition to create new values and system change for all,” notes Ms. Karin Boomsma, Sustainable Inclusive Business Project Director.

2022 is underlining collective global, regional and national efforts in the transition to a circular economy. Hence, the conference’s plenary session will be articulated around shared stories that set the scene for a sustainable future. Artists will be engaged in shaping a new reality for sustainable development, success stories will be showcased, and visions from policymakers, civil society and the private sector shared, in speeding up the transition to a circular economy in East and South Africa

“There is a clear role model: Nature. In nature, no material is ‘lost’ as it is always part of another cycle. When striving for circularity, we need to adopt a holistic lens, where we look at organisational aspects, social challenges such as inequality, challenges in the value chain and the opportunities for new business models. We really need to design a new system: We know how fast our resources deplete: Circular economy is not a choice, it’s an essential direction to take for business,” remarked Elfrieke van Galen, TheRockGroup Founder.

With a targeted audience of over 300 participants, the hybrid conference will also feature sector-specific discussions including the opportunities around regenerative agriculture, water and sanitation, the nexus between digital and green, sustainable and ethical textile and fashion, plastic packaging, renewable energy and alternative service models. The sessions will deep-dive into the status and trends of what is occurring in the region and what a sustainable inclusive and circular economy could look like in the next five years.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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