28 October 2020 - Stakeholder national workshops

Informed science for sustainable climate action in Kenya

A PARIS REINFORCE e-workshop, aimed at capturing the Kenyan national context and stakeholders’ perspective

October 28, 2020

Location: Online


Responding to climate change requires transdisciplinary processes to work together in order to co-design robust national, regional, and global climate policies. Such policies must be science-based, technically feasible, financially viable, socially acceptable, and coordinated in a globally cooperative manner.

In an attempt to develop such policies, PARIS REINFORCE, an EU research and innovation project, aims to bridge the gap in the science-policy interface and underpin climate policymaking with authoritative scientific processes. Apart from calling upon its diverse modelling capabilities, the project introduces an innovative co-creation framework, through which it seeks to actively involve stakeholders in multiple aspects of the scientific processes, from the formulation of relevant policy questions to the definition of modelling assumptions.

In collaboration with the Technical University of Mombasa and the National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND) project, and acknowledging that priorities and concerns of policymakers, industries and citizens largely differ across different countries in the world and across stakeholder groups, the project organised its first virtual, national stakeholder workshop in Mombasa, Kenya, aiming to mobilise knowledge embedded in individuals coming from governments, business, NGOs, academia, and the civil society; and to design well-informed and meaningful scientific activities in support of climate policymaking at the national and regional level.

The workshop was chaired and coordinated by Dr. Ioannis Tsipouridis and Prof. Michael Saulo (Technical University of Mombasa) and comprised sessions detailing the capabilities of the PARIS REINFORCE models for Kenya and the broader region, presenting our findings on climate action and sustainable development in Eastern Africa, as well as defining with participants the most pertinent climate policy questions. The event included the following sessions (click on the session title to view the presentation):

  • Greeting speech and event outline by Dr. Ioannis Tsipouridis (Technical University of Mombasa).
  • So, what is the PARIS REINFORCE project? – A brief introduction to the project by the project coordinator, Prof. Haris Doukas (National Technical University of Athens).
  • The project’s modelling ensemble and its use in informing Kenyan mitigation pathways – The Horizon 2020 PARIS REINFORCE project brings together a wide range of integrated assessment and energy systems models to inform feasible and politically realistic mitigation pathways for a number of the world’s major regions. The modelling ensemble includes representations of the world as a whole, the African continent, as well as some sub-continental African regions, and these regions’ low-carbon transitions can be used to describe the opportunities and challenges for Kenya and the surrounding countries. This presentation, by Dr. Ajay Gambhir (Imperial College London, Grantham Institute), introduced the PARIS REINFORCE modelling suite, before discussing some emerging results of relevance to Kenya, Africa, and the globe.
  • Designing policies for achieving simultaneous progress in multiple SDGs: an integrated assessment modelling exercise for Eastern Africa – Global climate modelling exercises often ignore regional and local realities. In the case of Eastern Africa, climate efforts will be inseparable from other major development challenges, such as reducing poverty and hunger, achieving universal access to clean energy, water and sanitation, reducing exposure to household pollutants, and more. On-ground knowledge is therefore of high value for calibrating integrated assessment models, in order to allow the design of realistic energy and climate policies that are beneficial on multiple scales. This presentation by Dr. Dirk-Jan Van de Ven (Basque Centre for Climate Change) showed the results of a recent study focusing on the effectiveness of residential energy policies for multiple SDGs and showcased modelling possibilities within the PARIS REINFORCE project.
  • Co-designing research questions and modelling parametersPolls designed for embarking upon the co-creation of the PARIS REINFORCE modelling approach for the country and the region, in terms of questions and modelling parameters. Stakeholders, facilitated by Dr. Alexandros Nikas (National Technical University of Athens), were asked to actively contribute to co-defining and communicate their preferences over the modelling approach, in a participatory process aimed at formulating the most relevant and seminal research questions as well as critical parameters for the upcoming modelling runs. 
  • Low-emissions, resilient infrastructure: Paris and SDGs are inseparable – A forum for discussing with the audience the topic of how to build the low-emissions, resilient infrastructure by 2050 of which 75% does not exist today also facing a USD 15 trillion global financing gap by 2040. The infrastructure challenge covers multiple Sustainable Development Goals (6, 7, 8, 9, and 11). Inherently linked with No 13 “Climate Action”. This was chaired and coordinated by Mr. Zsolt Lengyel (Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy).
  • Interpreting the Paris Agreement - The Paris Agreement is written in a way that allows for a broad range of interpretations. The many ways in which the Agreement can be interpreted can shape the global/regional pathways and scenarios modelled within the PARIS REINFORCE project. In this session, stakeholders, facilitated by Dr. Hannah Parris (Cambridge University) explored the different interpretations of goals set out in the Paris Agreement text; for example, what is meant by the term "well below 2oC"? - with the aim of identifying the range of views. Stakeholders will be invited to anonymously share their views and identify core topics that will be explored further in the PARIS REINFORCE modelling scenarios.


In particular, after a short welcome and keynote speech from workshop coordinator Dr. Ioannis Tsipouridis and Chairman Dr. Robert Arunga (Technical University of Mombasa), as well as a brief introductory note by project coordinator Prof. Haris Doukas (National Technical University of Athens), Dr. Ajay Gambhir (Imperial College London) highlighted expected global and African regional impacts from an unmanaged climate crisis, and noted the region-relevant modelling capabilities of the project before explaining some initial modelling response to the question ‘where is the world headed, given current policies and ambitions?’. Dr. Dirk-Jan van de Ven (Basque Centre for Climate Change) then presented the project’s earlier findings for the broader Eastern African region, mainly focusing on the role of traditional biomass in a sustainable future, suggesting that land policies aimed at increasing the sustainable output of biomass resources can reduce emissions in the region but also slightly delay progress in health and energy access goals. Co-host Prof. Michael Saulo (Technical University of Mombasa) then coordinated a Q&A session, in which most stakeholders questioned the sensitivity and compliance of the findings with both the action pledges and the Paris Agreement and seemed interested in analyses that extend climate, health and energy access.

The second session was more interactive, with Dr. Alexandros Nikas (National Technical University of Athens) presenting literature insights into the relationship between climate action and other Sustainable Development Goals of UN’s 2030 Agenda, noting the capacity of climate-economic models to assess progress in non-climate sustainability dimensions. He then asked participants, via online polling, to prioritise sectors for decarbonisation and sustainable development goals in relation to climate change, based on specific criteria. Overall, stakeholders (mostly from academia, business, and national government) considered the residential and transport sectors as critical for human development and combatting inequalities, while electricity and industry as paramount to sustainable resource use and earth system conservation, which was also the leading priority. Furthermore, attendees found limited progress and ambition in Kenya regarding protection and conservation of water resources and terrestrial ecosystems, while singling out access to sustainable and modern energy for all as the most significant goal for the country. Mr. Zsolt Lengyel (Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy) then discussed the topic of how to build the low-emissions, resilient infrastructure by 2050 of which 75% does not exist today also facing a USD 15 trillion global financing gap by 2040. The session concluded with Dr. Hannah Parris (Cambridge University) interacting with stakeholders on their perception of the different goals set out in the Paris Agreement, by means of three participatory tasks, and Prof. Saulo then discussing conclusions and insights from the workshop.

The key outputs from the vibrant discussions, as well as the opinions expressed via the interactive polling sessions, will now be used to design realistic yet stretching scenarios of how Kenya’s low-carbon development could proceed in the coming decades, in consideration of different sustainability priorities.