JKUAT Alumna Advocating Climate Change Agenda in Africa  

Ms. Chepkemoi

When the curtains came down on the Stockholm+50 international environmental meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, world leaders made a collective commitment to accelerating actions that will mitigate environmental threats facing the world.

During the meeting co-chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Swedish counterpart, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on 2nd June 2022, a global rallying call was made to avert an environmental crisis and define a pathway for an environmentally sustainable future.

In his address, President Kenyatta called on development partners to honour their commitments of doubling global climate financing, especially for adaptation, to enable developing countries to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure and systems. The meeting commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, which marked a new era of global cooperation.

Present among the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force at the meeting was JKUAT alumna, Ms. Winnie Chepkemoi, a graduate of Development Studies from the College of Human Resource and Development. As a culmination towards the event, she authored the Global Youth Policy Paper, bringing together the views and demands of youth across the world for a sustainable future.

The policy paper not only seeks to bring governments and leaders to task on their action in environmental matters, but also gives a roadmap for the active involvement of youth in matters climate action.

“When we talk about climate change and environmental conservation, a major emphasis is made on sustainability and posterity. I can’t think of better advocates of this sustainability agenda than the young people who will be mostly affected if it is not guaranteed” asserts Ms. Chepkemoi.

Apart from her role in the youth task force, Ms. Chepkemoi also currently serves as the the Climate Change Readiness Expert, at the Green Growth and Climate Change Division of the African Development Bank. In this capacity, she provides policy, capacity building, and technical support to African countries to enable them mobilize resources from the Green Climate Fund.  Her current focus is on lusophone countries, including Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Equatorial Guinea.

Winnie holds a gift she was presented for her role in the organization of the Stockholm meeting.

In her previous roles, she led the Multilateral Affairs function at the Embassy of Sweden in Kenya, charged with coordinating and reinforcing the relationship and partnership between the embassy, the United Nations Environmental Programme, European Union, and the UN-Habitat.

Growing up in her rural home in Kericho, and even as she pursued her undergraduate course at JKUAT, Winnie never imagined she would be passionately on the forefront of the climate change agenda. Matter of fact, she deemed environmental issues too scientific, and a generally boring concept. Not anymore.

“I find so much fulfillment in seeing the impact created as a result of the work we do. I realize now that sometimes we lack passion about a cause simply because we don’t have enough information. I now know that there is so much more to sustainability,” she elucidates.

Winnie holds that in order to improve literacy on environmental issues, a lot more needs to be done on the education front, starting with the nurturing of environmental consciousness from the family level, and the localization of terms that describe climate change and conservation.

“These concepts need to make sense in the local context, and a comprehensive understanding of conservation must be advanced. Climate change mitigation is beyond just planting trees. It is your waste management at home, it is industrial energy efficiency, it is mitigation finance, it is innovations around climate change, among others. All these compounding factors have to be understood and implemented collectively if sustainability is to be achieved,” she postulates.

On scaling the professional ladder as a young person, Winnie’s piece of advice to students and young professionals is succinct.

“Drawing from my experience, I believe that having a teachable spirit and being mentored is really critical. This of course has to be punctuated by consistency and excellence on your part. But most importantly, even as you put in the work, remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself time and allow God accompanied by prayer to be your place of anchor,” she concludes.

Winnie (in orange) joins other Youth Task members, President Kenyatta, and cabinet members in a commemorative photo at Stockholm.

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