Kenyan and Italian Researchers Hold Sustainability Research Symposium
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Italy commemorates the ‘Italian Research Day’ on the April 15, the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, to celebrate Italian researchers and academics worldwide. Strathmore University hosted the first of its kind held in Kenya since its inception in 2018.
The day looked at multidisciplinary approaches to sustainability between Kenyan and Italian researchers. Prof. Izael Da Silva, who heads the Energy and Research Centre at Strathmore University, spoke of the efforts made by the institution to spread awareness on the importance of clean energy. This is done through trainings on how to use clean energy like solar.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Santoni, scientific attaché from the Italian Embassy said, “It was an obvious choice that Strathmore was the place to hold it.” He gave a presentation on how we can use sustainability not only for environmental protection but also as a way for financial gain. The collection and processing of waste materials is a good way of ensuring that we are able to sustain the planet, create new products and industries. He encouraged participants to think of measures to take to help in the mission to achieve sustainability. One man’s trash could be your treasure.
“Without adaptation measures, damages caused by water will rise by 50% by the year 2080,” said Dr. Christian Berretta, Strathmore University, during his presentation on sustainable storm water management. He mentioned that rapid urbanization, climate change and rapid population growth result to water scarcity, urban flooding and degradation of water resources. He recommended that to solve this problem, sustainable drainage systems would absorb this run off water and reduce the issue of run offs. He also stated that developing countries have the chance to plan their cities better as they industrialise. We should therefore strive to fix the roof while the sun shines.
Dr. Francesca Di Matteo spoke on land and its importance in our day to day lives. She said, “Land is not just a factor of production but a symbol of culture and identity.” In addition, she stated that in order to protect our environment, we need to focus on the three pillars of environmental sustainability which are; economic viability, social equity, and environmental protection. If we use the three pillars, then we will be able to have a strong support system to withstand the weight that comes with sustainability.
One of the notable innovations in the area of sustainability discussed is the Strathmore University Water Governance and Innovation Hub, a project that began on 12th June 2021. This is the first co-creation of its kind in the Kenyan water sector and is a vehicle to enhance the gains already made towards universal access to water services. Its key objectives are research, consultancy and capacity building. These objectives are aligned to the 5th and 6th sustainable development goals. “We need to first teach integrity to leaders in order to have the best possible governance,” said Dr. Irene Ngunjiri, Ag. Director of the Water Governance and Innovation Hub. She advocates for people to be the change they want to see.
Georgina Njeru, the president of the Strathmore Environmental and Sustainability club highlighted the activities undertaken by Strathmore students to advance sustainability and ensure environmental protection. This includes projects like ‘bring your own bottles’ campaign which encouraged Strathmore students to carry reusable water bottles instead of utilizing single use plastic bottles. The club has also planted over 750 trees within the school. Through her and the club’s effort, we have been able to challenge the norm and take up the challenge. She has begun inspiring a shift in paradigm that may see more students help build a greener university.
As we endeavour to achieve a greener society, it is evident that Strathmore is already going green. The challenge now falls to you to champion the agenda. Let’s build a better planet today for a sustainable tomorrow.
This article was written by Faith Tuarari, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications student.
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