|Today, developments in science and technology are now useful in recycling, water purification, air purification, sewage treatment environmental remediation, solid waste management, renewable energy, eGain forecasting, energy conservation and natural resource management among others.
This programme seeks to examine the intersection between laws and policies and the wide array of contemporary issues relating to scientific advancement and technological developments that affect the environment.Developing countries like Kenya, have vast potential to contribute to developing science and technology. However, this potential is inhibited by several factors.
Firstly, the country lacks an enabling environment to support science, technology and innovation. The policy, legal and institutional framework is weak and fails to provide sufficient incentives to encourage innovation and investment in new ideas that would promote sustainable development through advancement in science and technology.
Secondly, knowledge and capacity gaps still exist thus impeding the ability of citizens to effectively take advantage of resources and other opportunities that are available to them. This can be attributed the fact that little resources are devoted to scientific research, technical training of personnel, and in raising the quality of education in learning institutions.
As a result, the products of local innovation may not compare favourably to those from other countries and it may also inhibit the capacity to acquire knowledge through technology transfer processes.
Thirdly, there exists a consumer base that is apathetic towards some locally produced products and lacks crucial knowledge to inform their choices about products and practices which would be ideal and friendly to the environment.
As a result, Kenya remains a net-export of licence fees and royalties and a victim of electronic waste dumping. Given the electricity shortages that still persist in the country, the use of devices that are not energy efficient continue to deny sections of the population energy that could be put to more useful purposes.
Furthermore, challenges still exist in the acceptance of scientific research and the controversy surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and debates around climate change are recent examples. Lastly, Kenya, like the rest of Africa, has a rich body of indigenous knowledge and related technologies.
These have and continue to be used to solve specific development and environmental problems and are instrumental in areas such as biodiversity conservation, food production and environmental management. Unfortunately, indigenous knowledge and technologies do not receive adequate protection and promotion as would be required.
The rights of the holders are weak, and so are the links between them, the formal institutions and communities that use the knowledge.Despite all this, several opportunities still exist.As countries around the world transition towards a green economy, there is a greater role to be played by science and technology.
This is more so because growth in income and employment in a green economy is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
It must be noted that laws and policies are important tools that can be deployed to enhance the contribution of science and technology to society. As such, they can be used to enhance positive contribution while at the same time discourage and mitigate against adverse consequences to the environment.
Therefore, policy and legislative reforms will be required to catalyse the benefits of science, technology and innovation and to provide incentives for their growth and development.Additionally, there is need to identify innovative and effective means of utilising science and technology to promote environmental conservation and sustainable natural resource management.
Therefore, Kenya will need to take advantage of its resource potential to utilise technologies such as wind and solar power to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to aid climate change adaptation efforts. Technologies such as ICTs are fundamental to environmental management.
ICT applications have provided useful gains where deployed in areas such as biodiversity protection, pollution reduction and water management. They also provide useful tools for monitoring, mitigation and adaption to the effects of climate change. In addition, Smart ICTs are also useful in power generation and distribution, building and construction and efficient transport systems.
The impact of increased access to ICTs in Kenya especially mobile telephony and internet penetration presents new opportunities for communities including marginalised groups.
While the digital divide remains a challenge, the use of ICTs including the adoption of e-government services by government amongst other ICT applications will be instrumental in not only promoting public participation and inclusive governance but also in improving transparency and enhancing public accountability which are deficient in the management of natural resources in Kenya.
Furthermore, the internet and social media have a role in enabling social change and in the realisation of fundamental rights provided for in the new Constitution such as freedom of expression, right to access to information and citizen participation in governance which are critical for environmental governance.
Innovation and more so, eco-innovation, will be a key driver of the transition towards green growth. To be able to provide meaningful change, innovations need to emerge and spread quickly, and therefore efforts need to be put in place to catalyse their spread and wide adoption.
Since necessity is the mother of invention, enabling environments need to be provided to support home grown solutions for environmental challenges.The links between innovation, research and the market place is of great importance. Systems are required to leverage on the strengths of each and at the same time facilitating greater collaboration, information sharing and promoting investments by both government and private sector.
This will be crucial in not only stimulating demand and meeting the needs of the market, but also in opening up new avenues for addressing environmental problems while accelerating economic growth.
Lastly, there is need to identify the knowledge and capacity gaps that exist and to enhance those capacities through education of the populace and the strengthening of collaboration and research to facilitate the generation, use and sharing of knowledge.
Education is also critical to help shift mind-sets towards positive environmental behaviour and to inform choices. This is increasingly becoming important especially in regard to energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste reduction.
- To conduct research to inform public policy choices and legislation on issues involving scientific advancements and technological developments that affect the environment.
- To advocate for the development and implementation of robust polices and favourable, transparent and stable regulatory frameworks to stimulate the investments in and the adoption, and use of technologies that will ultimately promote sustainable development.
- To create public awareness on the contemporary issues relating to scientific advancements and technological developments that affect the environment to facilitate informed choices and decisions.
- To encourage and promote local innovation and investment in science and technology as a way of driving economic growth and development
- To promote and enhance efforts towards the harnessing, promotion, understanding, sharing, application and protection of indigenous knowledge and technologies.