A climate change activist who pushed for the enactment of a law that mainstreams mitigation of global warming in Kenya’s development plans has been named among the world’s 100 most influential people.
Mr Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) — a continental coalition of non-state actors, was recognised for his efforts in influencing climate change policies not only in Kenya but in other African countries.
The list released as the world marks climate week, includes renowned global climate campaigners like Pope Francis, former US Vice president Al Gore and Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg, among other leaders.
CLIMATE CHANGE LAW
Mr Mwenda is known in environmental circles for his role in assembling broad stakeholder consultations bringing together government, the private sector and civil society leaders that finally saw the enactment of Kenya's Climate Change Act, 2016 by Parliament.
After the law was passed, Kenya launched the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) and Climate Change Action Plan, affirming its commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its implementing instrument, the Kyoto Protocol.
According to Apolitical, the London based organisation that ranks global leaders in various fields based on the best governance practices, Mr Mwenda has influenced climate change policy at a national and global level to make it more equitable and pro-poor.
“He has been a strong advocate in encouraging politicians in the global north to support environmentalists’ efforts in the global south. He is also a frequent speaker at events including the 7th Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa, and a co-author of several publications on climate policy such as Carbon Trading in Africa,” reads the announcement.
The organisation ranked leaders after screening hundreds of nominations by public servants from around the world, including experts at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Harvard University, Oxford University, Bloomberg Philanthropies and NGOs.
“The list highlights people currently making the biggest impact on climate change policy. Those recognised include high-profile advocates whose work is indispensable to raising awareness and demanding change. Others are rising stars who are making their mark in local communities and are a driving force behind governmental progress,” Apolitical said in a statement.
During the One Planet Summit co-hosted in Nairobi last week by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Mr Mwenda was a key voice in pushing for climate innovation in sustainable business models, climate smart agriculture, green bonds and renewable energy.
PACJA has played a significant role in linking civil society groups with pan-African institutions such as the Pan-African Parliament, the African Union Commission, Nepad, the African Development Bank and UNECA and is currently co-hosting this year’s Africa Climate Week with the UNFCCC in Accra, Ghana.
Mr Mwenda said the recognition was a great honour to the work that PACJA has done in shaping fair, just and equitable climate policies and action in Africa and globally.
Mr Mwenda, a PhD student at Wits School of Governance in South Africa, represents the African civil society in the committee of the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and also chairs the Collaboration Platform of Climate Research for Development in Africa.