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Can Somalia’s Rising Innovation Hubs Drive Climate Action?


By Mahbub M Abdillahi

Innovation hubs are recognized as ecosystems that promote collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship, offering promising avenues for addressing evolving local and global challenges. In the context of the human-induced climate crisis, these hubs present a unique opportunity to leverage local solutions and accelerate efforts in mitigating and adapting to the disproportionate impact of the climate change induced crisis. Notably, Somalia, a country confronted with a multitude of challenges, is experiencing growth in innovation hub ecosystems.

In countries like Somalia, where the concept of innovation hubs is still emerging, understanding their contribution to climate innovation can be challenging. These hubs typically encompass a wide range of initiatives, from coworking spaces and startup incubators to research centers. However, this diversity often leads to ambiguity and uncertainty regarding their specific role in advancing climate and environmental innovations.

Primarily, innovation hubs in Somalia tend to prioritize business growth and technological innovation, recognizing them as essential drivers of socio-economic development. It is crucial to acknowledge and support this focus, as it facilitates the development of a skilled workforce with expertise in various fields such as science, engineering, business, and policy.

However, there is a risk that the emphasis on business and technological innovation may overshadow the needed efforts aimed at addressing climate and environmental challenges. Although promoting economic growth is important, it is equally imperative to ensure that climate action innovations are not relegated to the background. Innovation hubs in the country need to balance between supporting innovation in traditional sectors and actively promoting climate solution initiatives.

In today’s global setting, the climate crisis presents one of the most significant challenges of our time, with far-reaching implications for human health, ecosystems, and economies. Somalia remains among the most vulnerable countries to the human induced climate change, with its escalating impact exacerbating pre-existing challenges such as poverty, security, and state-building. The country is also facing mounting environmental degradation and a biodiversity crisis.

In just the last decade, Somalia has experienced prolonged droughts, flash floods, and is currently facing the impacts of El Niño. What’s more concerning is the alarming escalation of environmental crises fueled by local deforestation and a lack of environmental regulatory standards. A paradigm shift is urgently needed, and Innovation hubs can be the heart of such shift.

The current status quo of relying on government and international partners’ responses is not sustainable. What the country needs is a long-term, locally led durable solution. Recognizing the important role of emerging innovation hubs in addressing this issue is paramount. These hubs can serve as local spaces where diverse stakeholders, including government bodies, academic institutions, industries, and civil society, join to collaborate and confront the mounting double crisis of environmental and climate challenges.

Within these hubs, locally led solution centered on climate action, technologies, and strategies can be developed to accelerate not just state-level responses but also enable state level efforts to mitigate environmental degradation and enhance resilience to climate impacts.

Additionally, this growing sector can play a key role in innovation for climate action initiatives, encouraging partnerships that go beyond the traditional focus on business and tech entrepreneurship and amplify the impact of climate initiatives.  If the growth of this sector succeeds in recognizing the importance of locally led, locally owned climate innovation, it can enable the country to accelerate progress towards its climate goals and emerge as a leader in sustainable innovation on the regional and continental stage.

In conclusion, Innovation hubs serve as engines of sustainable development and drivers of climate action. By utilizing this emerging sector, local climate solution innovation can thrive. However, realizing the full potential of innovation hubs requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including government agencies, private sector actors, academic institutions, and civil society organizations. As Somalia is facing double crisis of environment and human induced climate change, innovation hubs must prioritize investment, collaboration, and innovation to effectively leverage on their power.