While advocacy continues to push for developed countries to live up to their climate change funding responsibilities, the private sector is taking initiative. For example, to support Africa’s developed sustainability, there are already environment conscious and responsible companies like QNET that are taking action and working with on ground grass root initiative to develop sustainable communities in Africa and other places around the world.
QNET has launched what it calls the Green Legacy Initiative, an active action plan to reforest and afforest key areas of Africa and Asia, the lungs of the world. The initiative is a partnership between QNET and EcoMatcher, a certified B Corporation and social enterprise.
Through this partnership, QNET has launched the first phase of the Green Legacy programme by planting forests comprising 3,000 trees in the UAE, Kenya and the Philippines.
The initiative reiterates QNET’s commitment towards sustainability. Planting trees actively protects nature and helps improve local ecosystems as well as generate sustainable agro-forestry livelihoods for local communities.
This initiative is vital for countries like Kenya where according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the country had 197,000 ha of planted forest but between 1990 and 2010, Kenya lost an average of 12,050 ha or 0.32% per year.
Ten years down the road, climate change is worsening and initiatives to reforest Kenya are needed now more than ever. However, limited opportunities for communities to influence reforestation plans and difficulties securing land rights hinder progress towards meeting targets.
This makes the Green Legacy Initiative a vital step towards saving Kenya’s forests. QNET is conducting the initiative in rural Kenya where it works with local communities under a programme called Tree4Kenya’s initiative.
It should be noted that, Kenya is one of the least forested countries in Africa, with only 7% tree cover. That equates to just 67 trees per person, compared to a global average that’s around 420 trees for each country. Worse still, conservation efforts have been lacking while there is entirely too much charcoal burning by locals and land clearing for agricultural activities as well as illegal logging.
“With Tree4Kenya’s initiative, we seek to have our major role in transforming Kenya’s carbon footprint and QNET is keen on building sustainable communities across Africa by driving,” notes East Africa Regional Coordinator for QNET Mr. Muqtadir Suwani.
Mr. Suwani was speaking recently in Kenya where the QNET team for The Green Legacy Initiative had gone to visit the tree planting sites in Embu, Kenya.
“There’s no time like the present to become environmentally friendly…QNET proactively supports and is undertaking green initiatives as a means to drive positive good governance practices,” he added.
Mr. Suwani went on to explain the initiative as a multi-stakeholder engagement that operates at the community level through collaboration with stakeholders such as EcoMatcher and the local group Trees4Kenya.
“All these are stakeholders who value environmental consciousness…by giving to the environment, we’re giving to life, and indirectly to people,” he summed up.
Speaking at the same event, the Director for Trees4Kenya Paulino Mugendi said such private sector engagement is vital to save Kenyan forests. He said while the government is struggling on a higher capacity with international development partners, there is need for the private sector to step in and aide support at the grass root level.
“We are very grateful to QNET and their partners for this support…it is only by planting trees that we can best protect our environment,” said the environmentalist.
“Already we have planted hundreds of thousands of trees and through this project we hope to plant thousands more to help reforest Kenya,” he added.
Also present was Karuku Kathogo, a forester from Kenya Forest Service who said more than protecting the environment, planting trees also supports sustainable local community development.
“These initiatives ensure that we have a sustainable community that is not destroying its environment in the name of development,” he said.
This is in fact QNET’s basic approach, to build sustainable communities by engaging with locals at every level possible. The grass-roots approach to development and societal contribution toward humanity is a fundamental pillar of the company’s social endeavor.
“With heightened consumer awareness on environmental issues, companies need not wait for their customers’ demands; they can take steps themselves in order gain competitive advantage by being seen as leaders who care about what happens beyond our borders and within them too,” said Mr. Suwani.
This effort also supports that of the United Nations in which the UN provides incentives including monetary payments or grants to local communities so they can continue protecting forests while also giving them job opportunities alongside other social benefits.
Kenya’s green initiatives are spread across both public and private sectors of the economy. It is therefore important that sustainable development be embraced at all levels aimed at reducing individual carbon footprints in order to uphold sustainability.
Kenya has been implementing sustainable development for quite some time now, with eco-friendly technologies being welcomed by many citizens because they see these practices as a means not only towards environmental protection but also economic progress.
Honouring a Visionary Environmentalist
The is no better way of honouring the work of someone that advocated tree planting than planting trees, in this way, QNET’s Green Legacy Initiative is honouring Wangari Mathai’s efforts and supporting her Green Belt Movement.
As a former Nobel Prize-winning professor Wangari Maathai, the late environmentalist was the first African female to win a Nobel Peace Prize had a mission to empower people through leading forest restoration efforts as well as resisting expansion into conserved areas.
Her initiative, the Green Belt Movement was started in 1977 and works to plant trees across Kenya, alleviate poverty and end conflict. She was driven by a perceived connection between environmental degradation and poverty and conflict.
“Africans cannot afford to have a region where a few people are filthy rich and a huge number of people are in dehumanizing poverty,” Ms. Maathai once said connecting the need to protect the environment while providing sustainable economic solutions for the local communities.
“Poor people will cut the last tree to cook the last meal,” she once said. “The more you degrade the environment, the more you dig deeper into poverty,” she highlighted the devastating cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.
Notably, Ms. Maathai mobilized Kenyans, particularly women, to plant more than 30 million trees, and inspired the United Nations to launch a campaign that has led to the planting of 11 billion trees worldwide.
In her sustainable approach to reforestation, more than 900,000 Kenyan women benefited from her tree-planting campaign by selling seedlings for reforestation. It is in this same approach that QNET is working with local communities to develop more sustainable approach to economic independence and environment conservation.