Youth challenged to seek entrepreneurial opportunities in waste management
Zetech University was privileged to attend a Youth Sustainability Conference organised by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), on 17th September 2019. Led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Njenga Munene, a group of students took part in the discussion addressing the role of Youth in the sustainability agenda.
This comes right after the University hosted a two-day conference on sustainability innovations and the role of public and private sector in this agenda.
Kicking off the event, KAM Vice Chair Mucai Kunyiha, highlighted that the forum was essential in coming up with solutions that will help the country better manage waste and conserve the environment for the next generation. In his statements, he said, “Plastics and other waste materials are innocent; they did not walk into the river. How to deal with them is the issue, and those are the challenges we are here to address.” said Mr. Kunyiha.
While talking about the waste that is dumped deliberately, he noted the electronic waste is a serious concern as they are not being disposed of. Referring to the current generation trends, where one buys a new phone, tablet, and laptop or desktop, he noted that we lack better places to store them. “It is important for the community to get solutions on how we manage our waste. We can always create value out of the things that surround us.” Kunyiha added.
Zetech VC Prof. Njenga Munene joined a team of experts in a high level panel discussion where he noted that unsustainable use of resources would lead to death unless everyone takes the initiative of making the world a better place. Answering how universities ensure that conservation is taught in institutions, he said, “Aside from providing education on environmental courses, we have clubs and associations that champion environmental conservation.
Institutions should train students on waste management, recycling and train them to keep the environment as natural as possible.” He further pointed out that the pollution taking place in Nairobi will make its way to other regions such as Denmark or even Australia and it is thus important to appreciate the value of the ecosystem.
The panel further deliberated on the fact that environmental topics are perceived as boring by the youth. Commenting on this, Revered, Prof Steve Mbugua, Vice Chancellor, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, said that it is important for the youth to look at the opportunities even in topics that do not seem interesting them as they greatly impact the world. This will help reduce high unemployment among the youth.
Supporting his argument, Zetech VC Prof Munene noted that there are many sustainable solutions for the youth to exploit in matters waste management and conservation. “Waste is wealth; value can be created from the waste generated either through reuse or recycling. Young people should identify innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities in environmental management to make good money.” He said.
It was also noted by participants that until we ‘refuse’ plastics, we have to devise ways to deal with it innovatively and in a sustainable manner. “It is not practical to ban plastics. Let us Reduce, Reuse and Recycle them. This way, plastic will be less of a problem and more of a blessing.” said Prof. Munene, at the close of the discussion.
Compiled by Rahab Watare