In recent years, Kenya and Korea have taken increasingly advanced environmental initiatives.
The 2017 ban on single-use plastics in Kenya shows the government’s determination to address the issue of municipal waste disposal. I learned that over 100 million plastic bags were previously used and thrown away in the country each year. It is impressive how quickly Kenyans have adapted to the new norm by switching to alternatives. In 2019, Korea introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and other retailers. An awareness campaign to reduce plastic consumption has quickly become a new way of life.
In the area of waste management, the experience of Korea is worth mentioning. With rapid economic growth, urbanization, and industrialization in the 1970s and 1980s, it was inevitable that Korea, a small country with a large population, would experience increasing levels of waste. After 15 years of operation, the Nanji Landfill in Seoul has become one of the largest waste disposal areas in the world. The deteriorating quality of the air, water, and the surrounding ecosystem around the landfill led to the Landfill Restoration Project, a government initiative that restored the area in the mid-1990s. The landfill has been converted into an ecological park that attracts 600,000 visitors annually. The park was so successful that it became the venue for the 2002 World Cup. In addition to the ecological remediation, the Korean government has converted methane gas generated at the landfill into renewable energy. This is similar to Kenya’s plan at the Dandora landfill to build a power plant with waste.
Recycling is another priority for the Korean government. Since the introduction of compulsory recycling in the 1990s, Korea has had one of the highest recycling rates among the OECD countries, at 86.5 percent from 2019. Aside from the environmental benefits, recycling has also brought economic and social benefits to the country. By creating a policy framework that has enabled a circular economy, the recyclable products and materials industry has increasingly opened up new economic opportunities, such as creating green jobs. The Korean government is more than willing to share its waste management policy and experience with Kenya.
The above experiences and best practices shared by Kenya and Korea can be cemented through the Green Growth Partnership and Global Goals 2030 (P4G) initiative. After its successful inaugural summit in Denmark in 2018, Korea will host the P21G Summit in Seoul 2021 (2021p4g-seoulsummit.kr), scheduled for May 30-31, 2021. The virtual summit provides a platform for putting green growth policies into practice. The P4G initiative is not only a matter for governments, but also for the private sector and civil society. Various stakeholders will join in looking for innovative solutions for green economic growth, addressing climate change and achieving the sustainable development goals, particularly in the areas of water, energy, food and agriculture, circular economy and cities. I hope the upcoming summit will result in more concrete public-private partnerships that can contribute to Kenya’s national development goals, Vision 2030 and the Big 4 agenda.
Back in 2019, a Korean start-up helped supply rural communities in Kenya with solar energy through its P4G-funded Solar Cow 4 Impact project. By providing portable batteries called “Power Milk” that are connected to “Solar Cow” charging stations installed in schools, community members now have easy access to electricity rather than several hours of driving into town to charge their devices . This innovative idea inspired children to go to school – not only to study, but also to recharge their batteries while attending class. P4G offers an integrative development that enables marginalized population groups with innovative solutions. With financial commitment from states and technology as well as innovations from the private sector, projects within the framework of P4G have been crystallized and can be continued. I hope that this cooperation will broaden your horizons beyond the development of Kenya. For one, I believe that a combined inclusive global effort is necessary for P4G to be successful.
As we prepare for the P4G Summit in Seoul 2021, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea will host a preliminary event in Kenya tomorrow, entitled “Korea-Africa Green New Deal Business Forum”. The event will look for ways to build sustainable partnerships that can provide solutions to addressing the challenges of sustainable development and green growth. I hope that this event, and beyond that the P4G Summit in Seoul 2021, will pave the way for the two countries to achieve an ambitious yet mutually reinforcing transition and “green” our relationship.
Take a short survey and help us improve our website!
Participate in a survey