A conversation and Covid sparked Patrick’s award-winning climate idea

Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi from Kenya came up with a scalable idea on how to educate African schoolchildren about climate change.
The idea was shared on the We Don’t Have Time network — and has now been awarded “Best Climate Idea of the year”.

”Together truly we are the solution to the climate change crisis, and we don’t have time to wait”, says Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi.

Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi got involved in the climate movement about 20 years ago, when he became a member of a community-based organization in his home town Thika called ESCONET (Escarpment environment conservation network), which was working to rehabilitate the forests along the Great Rift Valley escarpment.

He also got involved in Greenbelt Movement, founded in 1977 by Wangari Mathai, who would later become the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

”It was during this time that I got to learn about climate change and some means by which we can try to offset the carbon footprint and to conserve our national Forest and natural resources”, says Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi in an email interview with We Don't Have Time.

Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi at Fourteen Falls, just outside of his hometown Thika, 1,5 hours northeast of Nairobi.

Earlier this year Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi sat talking to his friend Robert Ndungu and his niece about climate change. That conversation led him to create the award-winning climate review on the We Don’t Have Time App.

”The conversation built on how the political class in Kenya is working so hard to destroy a lot of green spaces as forests and parks, and replace them with high-rise apartments, skyscrapers or highways, and even blocking paths and habitats for wild animals like elephants. In 2019, when the government of Kenya wanted to recover riparian lands and river spaces already occupied by buildings, some politicians and investors indicated that it might be better to change the natural course of rivers instead. It was really absurd and disturbing to me and to many others. We talked about how the older generation had time to commune with nature, and my friend’s niece lamented the fact that her generation might not have the chance to enjoy such things in the future. She said her high school didn’t even teach her about the realities of climate change and environmental degradation.”

The conversation ended with two questions:

What would be the best way for a country and a community to ensure that the young people are given an all-round education, covering contemporary and emerging issues in all aspects of life, including climate change?

And secondly: How can the young people, whose future climate is being destroyed, reclaim these resources before the extractive economies destroy them completely?

The award for Best Climate Idea was presented at the Exponential Climate Action Summit, which was broadcast live to 8 million viewers on September 24. Watch the award ceremony here: https://bit.ly/3dTH8hX

At that time, the COVID-19 lockdown led to a lot of schools striving to move education onto online platforms. Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi and Robert Ndungu therefore started elaboration on using digitalization to spread information on climate change.

On April 25, Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi sat down in front of his computer to take part in the Climate Hackaton, organized by We Don't Have Time during Earth Day Week 2020.

”I felt I had to share the idea of setting up an online platform to allow young people to participate and learn about their environment, climate change and how they could become climate ambassadors.”

He titled his idea “Borrowing from the Future”, to remind us all that we have accelerated climate change and destroyed the global ecosystem to a point where we are now living on a borrowed time, sadly borrowed from our future generation.

”Borrowing from the Future will seek to do a number of things. One is to provide a platform for young people in Kenya (scalable to Africa and the world) to access and interact with information on climate change and environmental conservation. Another is to use the platform to allow young people to exchange ideas and start participating in building climate-conscious economic and political systems.”

What kind of response have you received?

”From the time I posted the idea in the app, we have received overwhelmingly positive ideas. I think this is well evidenced by the likes and comments on the app. A few people have reached out to us and would like to know more about the project and how they can collaborate. One is Mr Kevin Njeru Mwiti, a lecturer at Mount Kenya University, Thika Main campus, with a keen interest in sustainability. He is interested in how we could implement this idea with learning institutions around the country and with help of the institution where he teaches. The other one is a service called Planet Centric Accelerator from the Finnish company Vincit, which I have now had a zoom meeting with.”

”I love people and I love to help where I can. We are a team of guys who try to reach out to people and let them know about We Don’t Have Time and get them to download the app”, says Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi.

The grants and awards are instituted by the We Don’t Have Time Foundation, which is the main owner of We Don’t Have Time.

Ingmar Rentzhog, CEO and Founder of We Don’t Have Time, was part of the board member jury. He says:

”It’s a simple but very smart idea. It’s about educating young people on the African continent on the climate crisis, with the help of digital tools. It is cheap, it uses a technique which is widely accessible, and it could have a great impact. If we could educate kids on the whole African continent we would soon have a lot of climate activists working on solutions.”

Patrick with his mom. “She was so happy for the good news. She is my number one supporter”, he says.

The grant for the best climate idea is 1 500 US Dollars.

”The prize money is going to be very instrumental in helping me and my small team of friends to set up a structure that can allow the project to scale. We may need to register the initiative with the appropriate bodies in Kenya, develop a strategy, set up a website, and hold a meeting with a few opinion leaders in the climate movement and education sectors to see how best to roll the project down”, says Patrick Kiarie Nyokabi.

Written by MARKUS LUTTEMAN

READ ABOUT THE OTHER WINNERS:

Fact Box: About the awards

The users of the We Don’t Have Time app have shared thousands of climate ideas and reviews with people from all over the world. To boost even more engagement The We Don’t Have Time Foundation has instituted a grant for the best idea, the best climate love and the best climate warning. The foundation is the majority shareholder in the limited company (WeDontHaveTime AB), which operates the social network with the same name.

The prize jury consists of the Foundation’s Board of directors: Cathy Orlando, Stuart Scott, Per-Espen Stoknes, Ingmar Rentzhog, David Olsson, Jamie Margolin (youth advisor).

We Don’t Have Time is the world’s largest social network for sharing climate action and solutions. Join our network: wedonthavetime.org

We Don't Have Time

We Don’t Have Time is the worlds largest social network for climate action

We Don't Have Time

We Don’t Have Time is a social network for everyone who wants to be a part of the solution to the climate crisis. The power of many enables us to influence businesses, politicians and world leaders. But We Don’t Have Time to wait.

We Don’t Have Time

Written by

We Don’t Have Time is a social network for climate action. Together we are the solution to the climate crisis.

We Don't Have Time

We Don’t Have Time is a social network for everyone who wants to be a part of the solution to the climate crisis. The power of many enables us to influence businesses, politicians and world leaders. But We Don’t Have Time to wait.