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How to conserve habitat and grow economy

Saturday December 1 2018

BLUE ECONOMY

Guests admire Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s marine photographs at Chatter Hall in Nairobi on November 26, 2018. The exhibition sought to promote sustainability. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

AZIM LAKHANI
By AZIM LAKHANI
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In demonstrating solidarity with the government’s sponsorship of the international Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) hosted an exhibition of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s marine photographs entitled Fragile Beauty.

The 47 photographs, both dramatic ones of sharks and whales as well as detailed ones of small creatures, showed the often unknown vibrant beauty that exists under water. The exhibition aimed to make audiences aware of this beauty as well as the potential risk of losing it.

The exhibition underscored why everyone — government, the commercial sector and civil society — must come together to tackle the sustainability agenda.

Kenya has shown its leadership by hosting the conference this week, as well as its involvement in the global #BanPlastics movement (in particular its plastic bags ban) and the UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign).

CONSERVATION

The Aga Khan Development Network, Kenya, one of the country’s largest private social and economic development organisations, has been doing its part.

It has been involved in conservation efforts in Kenya for decades. This week, for example, AKDN’s Serena Hotels and Mettle Solar OFGEN, a Kenyan company specialising in developing and funding solar power projects, opened Kenya’s first solar powered lodge – Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge in Tsavo West National Park.

In addition, the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge has installed the first Tesla Inverter/Battery system in Kenya, and two hybrid projects were commissioned in February 2018 at Serena’s Lake Elementeita and Sweetwaters Camps.

Earlier this year, Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge won a Global Best Practice award in Milan, Italy, for using eco-friendly practices and operating energy efficient laundry services.

Moreover, the Serena Beach Resort in Mombasa has been helping to protect turtles for 20 years by releasing more than 50,000 hatchlings into the sea.

FOREST

AKDN’s tree-planting commitments in Kenya — undertaken by its affiliated institutions, including the Aga Khan Foundation’s coastal programmes, the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Serena Hotels, Frigoken and the Nation Media Group — have planted more than 10 million trees in Kenya as part of a 2014 government pledge to increase forest cover by 10 percent.

Which brings us back to Prince Hussain’s exhibition. Prince Hussain, the second son of His Highness the Aga Khan, became particularly interested in wildlife photography and travel at a young age.

Early on, he demonstrated a concern for issues like deforestation, habitat loss, and the acceleration of the extinction rate, global warming and pollution.

Explaining his photography, Prince Hussain said: “It’s my hope that others will see the beauty I see and become more actively engaged in the struggle to slow the degradation of our environment and decimation of our wildlife. And that they might encourage others to follow suit.”

Which is what we should all do: follow suit.

Dr Azim Lakhani is the Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network, Kenya

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