From Crisis to Opportunity: Harnessing Green Skills to Combat Unemployment and Climate Challenges in Kenya

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Green skills for youth in Kenya have the potential to address two pressing challenges: climate change and unemployment. Green skills refer to the knowledge, abilities, and attitudes required to understand and address environmental challenges.

The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP explains that equipping young people with knowledge and abilities related to renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, waste management, and other green sectors can actively contribute to mitigating climate change while accessing employment opportunities in emerging industries.

Kenya is vulnerable to impacts of climate change. The country has been experiencing extreme weather events like frequent droughts and floods that threaten agriculture, water resources, and overall economic stability.

At the same time, Kenya faces high levels of youth unemployment. Unchecked, the International Labour Organization fears that youth unemployment, currently estimated at 35 per cent of the population, will double by 2045.

By equipping young people with green skills, they can actively contribute to mitigating climate change while also gaining access to employment opportunities in emerging green sectors.

According to Youth Climate Action Strategy for Kenya 2021- 2030, one way in which green skills can tackle climate change in Kenya is through renewable energy. Kenya has abundant renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass.

Investing in renewable energy infrastructure not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also provides clean and affordable energy access to communities. Training young people in solar panel installation, wind turbine maintenance, or biogas production can create job opportunities while promoting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The strategy states that green skills among Kenyan youth are essential for sustainable agriculture. Agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation, use of chemical fertilizers, and inefficient farming practices.

By training youth in sustainable farming techniques like organic farming, agroforestry, and water-efficient irrigation methods, they can help reduce emissions while improving food security and resilience to climate change impacts.

Furthermore, waste management is a critical aspect of addressing climate change. Poor waste management practices contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through the release of methane from landfills.

Training young people in waste segregation, recycling, composting, and waste-to-energy technologies can not only reduce emissions but also create employment opportunities in the waste management sector.

In addition to mitigating climate change, green skills can also address youth unemployment in Kenya. The green economy is a rapidly growing sector globally, offering numerous job opportunities.

Therefore, green skills enable young people to become more employable in industries such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, eco-tourism, and environmental consultancy. These sectors have the potential to create decent and sustainable jobs that contribute to both economic growth and environmental sustainability.

To ensure the successful implementation of green skills programs for youth in Kenya, several factors need to be considered. Firstly, there is a need for collaboration between government institutions, educational institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector. This collaboration can help design relevant and up-to-date training programs that meet the needs of the green economy.

Access to finance is also crucial for young people to acquire the necessary skills and start their own green enterprises. Furthermore, awareness and advocacy are essential to promote the value of green skills and create a demand for environmentally friendly products and services.

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