At the "Dóchas at 50: Sustainable Development in a Time of Climate Crisis" conference held in Dublin on May 9th, 2024, Prof. Attiya Waris, Faculty of Law scholar and the UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt, and other International Financial Obligations and Human Rights, was commended for her groundbreaking work. President Higgins of Ireland praised Prof. Waris's crucial efforts in debt restructuring, tax justice grounded in human rights principles, systemic reform, and effective measures to address illicit financial flows which have been a significant obstacle to the progressive realization of human rights. Her efforts directly tackle significant obstacles to the realization of human rights, both in Kenya and globally

Prof. Waris's work on debt restructuring and tax justice, firmly rooted in human rights principles, is crucial for addressing the root causes of poverty and injustice in Kenya and beyond. Illicit financial flows and unfair trade practices perpetuate poverty and insecurity, and must be confronted through systemic reforms.

The conference highlighted the pressing global issues on climate change and adaptation, food security, human rights and sustainable development

Kenya and Africa as a whole faces a grave food insecurity crisis, with a significant portion of the population impacted. According to recent data, 26.2% of the African population experienced severe food insecurity in 2021, while 9.8% of the global population suffered from undernourishment. Kenya's agri-food systems are strained, leading to food dependency, insecurity, and hunger, particularly among vulnerable communities.

Rising temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns, and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events pose severe threats to agricultural productivity, livelihoods, and food security in Kenya. Climate change is already disrupting food availability, reducing access to nutritious food, and impacting food quality, disproportionately affecting smallholder farmers who depend on rain-fed agriculture.

There is growing concern that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being hampered. Only 15% of the 140 specific targets are on track to be achieved, and many targets are regressing. Urgent efforts and a paradigm shift that prioritizes the well-being of the planet over short-term gains are imperative.

As a leading academic institution in Kenya and Africa, the University of Nairobi plays a vital role in addressing these pressing issues. Through cutting-edge research, interdisciplinary education programs, and community engagement initiatives, the university is well-positioned to contribute to sustainable solutions to food insecurity, climate change adaptation, debt restructuring, tax justice, and the promotion of human rights in the region.

The university's Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation (ICCA) are at the forefront of research and policy advocacy efforts, providing valuable insights and recommendations to policymakers and stakeholders.

Furthermore, the university's partnerships with local and international organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), enable collaborative efforts to tackle these complex challenges.

UoN through its academic excellence, research prowess, and community engagement, stands at the forefront of this collective effort, working in tandem with partners like Prof. Attiya Waris to build a more sustainable, just, and prosperous future for Kenya and the world.