Kennedy Mbeva Liti, who is among the youngest Green Talents Award winners, won the award in 2014 in Germany.

Kennedy is passionate and enthusiastic about how sustainable models can be implemented to fight the climate change. To support African researchers, Kennedy Co-founded African Research & Impact Network (ARIN), a platform connecting researchers globally.

My Career Path

My academic path is a bit unusual. Looking for ways to complement my academic studies while an undergraduate student, I was involved in the development of climate change and environmental policy in Kenya. While a student and immediately after graduating from Kenyatta University, in Nairobi, Kenya, I was also involved in setting up a continental youth movement, the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC). I then proceeded to study for my Masters degree at the UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development (IESD) in Shanghai, China. It is while studying for my MSc that I was awarded the Green Talents Award in 2014. I then spent a three-month stay at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) in Bonn, Germany in 2015.

Upon completing my MSc, I went back to Nairobi to work with the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), a premier public policy think tank. Two years later, I commenced my PhD studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. My PhD project examines the design of international trade agreements.  

About the green talents award

The Green Talents Award is a prestigious fellowship administered by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It comprises two parts: a two-week field trip to Germany; and a research stay of up to three months at a German institution. More details can be found here

Watch the LIVE interview here:How I won the Green Talents Award in Germany :

Tell us about your research that made you win the award

For my MSc, I examined the effectiveness of climate finance. In brief, the research analysed the policies and mechanisms meant to ensure prudent management  of financial resources for addressing climate change in Kenya. I was interested in finding out whether Kenya had the relevant laws and policies to ensure climate finance was managed in a transparent and accountable manner. I published my findings in a book chapter and journal article.

What are the benefits from the Green Talents Award?

The Green Talents Award has been uniquely well designed to benefit both the Awardee and other partners. Some of the (funded) benefits include:

  • A two week tour in Germany of innovative sustainability research initiatives in Germany
  • A research stay at a German research centre of choice for up to three months
  • A rich network of Green Talents Alumni
  • Diverse funding sources for subsequent research collaborations

What kind of tips would you give to applicants regarding the call?

  • Familiarize yourself with the Green Talents Award and its requirements  
  • Clearly present your research project
  • Tell your story, in your voice. It is important to be authentic  
  • If you do not receive the Award this time round, try again
  • Proofread your application essays
  • Set aside sufficient time to work on the application

Where are we in fighting against climate change? How can African Professionals in this field abroad contribute towards this?

Despite being vulnerable and experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change, Kenya in particular, and the East African region in general, have taken several steps to address the challenge. These include developing laws and policies (Kenya introduced the first climate change law in Africa) and mobilising resources to adapt to the impacts of climate change such as droughts and extreme weather events. Since climate change is a cross-cutting issue, (young) African professionals can play an important role in addressing the challenge. From building innovative solutions such as solar irrigation systems to building insurance products for farmers losing their  livestock to droughts, African professionals can use their diverse skills to address climate change in the region.

What is also important is for young African researchers to build and strengthen their networks. To this end, I partnered with one of my colleagues Dr. Joanes Atela to create the African Research & Impact Network (ARIN). ARIN is a platform for young African researchers, both within the continent and in the diaspora, to collaborate in their research and share crucial information. After all, Africa does not have a shortage of capable young African professionals. To the contrary, the challenge is connecting these researchers to each other. 

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