In Summary
  • The government, the commercial sector and civil society all have a responsibility to create an environment of interacting forces for development.
  • Kenya has shown continuous and unwavering efforts to protect the environment and preserve its natural resources

  • The AKDN is a private network of 11 commercial as well as not-for-profit agencies that has a 100-year legacy in Kenya.

  • Man is God’s noblest creation to whom He has entrusted the stewardship of all that is on earth.

There is a photograph of a tree in my office, taken by Prince Hussain Aga Khan and used in a campaign where the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) planted more than 10 million trees in Kenya to support the government’s pledge to increase forest cover.

70,000 FARMS

It often reminds me of my presentation at a World Bank consultative meeting in Johannesburg on its “World Development Report 2000/1” on values, norms and poverty themes. Among the AKDN ethics and values I covered was stewardship, collective responsibility to leave the planet better than we found it.

I came across many more examples of how this notion is reality, not rhetoric, within AKDN in Kenya. For example, 40 years ago, Serena Hotels pioneered a form of tourism combining meeting development objectives with economic sustainability, viability and conservation of the environment. Releasing over 50,000 hatchlings into the sea to protect turtles, maintaining a butterfly house to protect species and launching Kenya’s first fully solar-powered, off-grid lodge at Kilaguni are testimony to this. Recently, the Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications produced four seasons of Giving Nature a Voice, a documentary series by eight-time Emmy Award winner Andrew Tkach that has been aired weekly on NTV.

A pioneering initiative by Property Development and Management, Vienna Court, is the first green building in the region, with Leadership and Environmental Design certification from the US Green Building Council.

The Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) ensure over 70,000 farms benefit from sustainable farming practices, for example, through over 10,000 water pans used to harvest and store rainwater for irrigation. IPS demonstrate the ‘circular economy’ — waste from one initiative becoming an input for another.

FRAGILE BEAUTY

Schools of the Aga Khan Education Service and the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa ensure that future generations are prepared for stewardship, through engagement. Examples include a biodigester that processes gray water from showers and toilets to maintain their gardens; research projects that address air pollution, water purification and global warming; sustainability initiatives like the study of hydroponics and affordable container housing; and science projects that address food-waste management and rainwater harvesting.

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