From a Noble University Idea to a Go-to Partner for Training, Research, Consulting, and Coaching.

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By ;Maureen Murengeka

The Environmental Capacity and Sustainability Institute (ECAS Institute) is a Pan-African policy think-tank established in 2016 to help bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice pertaining to the environment and Climate Action in Africa.

ECAS Institute was founded in 2011 at Kenyatta University. According to the founder and CEO, Jacob Olonde, in his third year at Kenyatta University’s School of Environmental Studies, while serving as a class representative and the Chairman of the Kenyatta University Environmental Club, the Institute, whereas operating under a different name, was founded on the need to help students secure attachments, internships, and entry jobs and expose them to the world of work. 

This realization came upon the realization that most students being invited to meetings and events outside campus lacked the technical capacity and confidence to contribute to discussions. They ended up fearing to attend or just sit through meetings.

This prompted Jacob to establish a capacity building and exposure programme that saw students and members of the Kenyatta University Environmental Club visit South Korea, Italy, Estonia, and Greece among other countries to attend global events like the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA), the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) among other regional and global events.

Locally, students were taken for exposure and networking trips to UNEP, the Ministry of Environment, NEMA, East Africa Wildlife Society among others. 

Students were also involved in activities such as Nairobi River Clean Ups, tree planting activities across National Water Towers, and participating in celebrating global events such as environmental day, biodiversity days, and water day.

These initiatives led to many students getting absorbed among the UN Agencies in Nairobi, others formed their own organizations, others got scholarships to further their studies besides others got absorbed in the local job market. This trend continued even outside of campus as a mentorship and coaching platform for students and fresh graduates.

In 2016, ECAS Institute got into a training, research and mentorship partnership with the Institute of Climate Change and Adaptation at the University of Nairobi where it was hosted up to the year 2021. The partnership saw over 5000 professionals acquiring knowledge on climate change, research, biodiversity, energy and leadership-related topics.

A collaborative research program registered successes as over 20 research projects were implemented. Notable ones are the Development Corridors Programme (DCP), Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Lands (ASSAR), Knowledge Systems and Innovation (KSI) as well as the Operationalizing Green Economy Mainstreaming in Africa.

The mentorship programme was a continuation of the exposure and capacity-building programme back at Kenyatta University. Youths, students and fresh graduates were recruited through a competitive process and enrolled on a mentorship and coaching programme that run for over 6 months. 

The mentees were taken through rigorous classroom teaching, exposure trips, and one-on-one seasons with mentors who are established practitioners in the government, private sector, NGOs and civil society spaces. 

They were trained in leadership, eco-preneurship, project management, research and innovation and coached on important skills and traits such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, organization, honesty, competency and work ethic. 

A total of 970 mentees successfully graduated from this programme between 2017 and 2022.  

Over 40 mentees are currently running their environmentally-conscious business and community initiatives which are creating job opportunities.

ECAS Institute has also undertaken consulting assignments nationally and in the region. 

It has worked with and supported partners in training, advocacy, facilitation, research and general consulting work. It has also supported partners in South Sudan, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, and the UK to collect data, organize and manage events, and undertake baseline studies, feasibility studies, monitoring and evaluation and learning.

ECAS Institute is designed for the general public. It is working with and supporting government agencies, county governments, private sector and businesses, UN agencies, Embassies, Non-Governmental organizations and Civil Society Organizations, Community groups, and individuals.

For the coming 5 years, ECAS Institute aims to fortify its reputation as a leading provider of short and professional training courses, capacity development programs, coaching, and consulting services both in Kenya and intentionally. Its comprehensive learning is designed to prepare you and your organization to respond successfully to the ever-prevalent challenges facing institutions, organizations, and communities. 

It will continue to offer technical, knowledge, and green skills-based courses covering climate change, policy, finance, sustainability, governance, technology and research, projects, and human resource development and mentorship among other specialized areas.

The mentorship program will still seek to expose over 15, 000 young people (university students, young graduates, job seekers, and emerging entrepreneurs) to practical and innovative self/employability skills and opportunities that come with the environment, climate change, and energy-related fields. The program is implemented through training, debates, webinars, and match-making with innovative skills through environmentally-conscious apprenticeships, job placements, entrepreneurship training, and, business coaching.

It also seeks to bolster partnerships and collaboration through joint research, co-design and implementation of courses, joint fundraising, sharing expert knowledge, linkages with relevant communities of practice, sharing consultancy opportunities, joint bidding, and providing expert leadership and supporting travels and participation in global processes.

As they celebrate 7 years of greening mind, creating awareness, and supporting programs and businesses to mainstream climate change, sustainability, just transition, circular and green economy, and sustainable development goals into policies, laws, plans, strategies, and approaches, ECAS Institute will also be celebrating one year since its moving to an independent office, boasting of a growing pool of technical/independent consultants, employees, interns, mentees, and volunteers.

ECAS has been and will always be your go-to green partner for training, research, consulting, and coaching.

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