In our Member Spotlight series, we are speaking to Climate Strategies members about their research and findings. For the second edition, we spoke with Richard Mulwa, Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy, Centre Director and Senior Research Fellow, Environment for Development, University of Nairobi.

What were key findings from your research on just transitions in Kenya’s transport, energy & waste management sectors?

Ongoing work in the three sectors supports just transition principles and goals through the absorption of public transport workers rendered jobless and compensation of the displaced businesses occasioned by adoption of the Bus rapid transit (BRT) system. There has also been enactment, revision and realignment of policies and laws such as the integrated national transport policy, the sustainable solid waste management Act 2021 and the electric vehicles (EV) mobility guidelines. These changes in policies and laws have great potential to create green jobs and provide better working environments for women and men.

In the waste sector, the new Act of 2021 and the proposed extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations target to formalize the workers in the sector and organize them into official working groups; while in the transport sector, the government plans to formalize the sector and provide social security, insurance etc. to the workers who are mostly informal. Read more in this recent report.

What are key recommendations for policymakers?

  1. There is a need to align the existing laws and policies to include the aspirations, principles, intentions, and spirit of just transition.
  2. Authorities should create awareness of just transition benefits and challenges by highlighting how the public will be safeguarded against any adverse impacts. This will be important for social acceptance of the programs and regulations that target to introduce and accelerate just transition in various economic sectors.
  3. There needs to be mechanisms to enhance inclusive social dialogue and promote equity and environmental sustainability. Just Transition needs collaboration from policymakers to users of resources and, most importantly, an injection of political goodwill to make it work faster.
  4. To ensure a seamless transition, the government, with all stakeholders’ support, must establish targeted investments in specific sectors, develop worker skill development programs, and create an equitable transition fund to address the problem of insufficient funds.

How can we close the gap between science and policy action in our response to climate change?

We need enhanced communication and collaboration between researchers and policymakers by holding joint sessions on just transition. Policymakers should also actively seek and incorporate relevant research into their decision-making processes. Researchers should ensure that their findings are accessible and understandable to policymakers. Additionally, policymakers and researchers should be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to engage with each other effectively through training in basic research methods, critical evaluation of evidence, policy analysis, and communication.