21 August 2018

Kenya: Global Meet Has Come At the Right Time

The ongoing demolition of structures and evictions in Nairobi on the grounds that some are sitting on riparian land or space meant for public utilities comes ahead of the Prospects and Opportunities for Restoration in Africa Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) due at the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) headquarters in Nairobi on August 29 and 30.

More than 800 multi-sector stakeholders from across Africa and around the world, along with at least 30,000 online participants, will engage in the event coordinated by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Unep and the World Bank.

Of late, Kenya has banned plastic bags and initiated other relevant legal and policy measures under the Constitution and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

BIG FOUR AGENDA

For instance, among the President's 'Big Four' agenda is food security, which is hinged on improved land management, including in urban areas, environmental protection and promotion of the circular economy.

The Unep has advised that to revitalise agriculture, countries need first-rate urbanisation and environmentally sound infrastructure growth, a space for conservation and protected areas and the latest techniques in agriculture and irrigation that increase efficiency and resilience and reduce waste while removing the temptation to plough more land.

While the Nairobi regeneration team has been re-organising the city as directed by the President -- who gave it 30 days, which have since expired -- the fact that country will be hosting such a high-profile meeting could have a hand in the intervention.

PARIS AGREEMENT

Almost 50 million hectares of land is degraded in Africa every year. Its restoration and environmental protection are among the targets of the Paris agreement, to which Kenya is a signatory.

In addition to the evictions in the Mau Forest and Kibera and demolitions across Nairobi, Kenya is also involved in massive tree planting and a host of other activities.

Recognising the devastating impact of climate change, the environment has been accorded the highest legal provision and prioritised in the Constitution.

Interventions include enacting the Climate Change Act 2016, amending the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act 1999, and development of the National Adaptation Action Plan (2013-17).

CLIMATE CHANGE

In addition are sectoral initiatives to address the impact of climate change and strengthen the resilience of communities, as well as the development of policy documents such as the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS 2010).

GLF is gaining traction and member states are eager to entrench practical, continuous cycles of land use and restoration. Studies show good land use management is central to the climate change effort.

Whether Kenya's actions are a coincidence or are intended to showcase environmental protection efforts is yet to be seen. But it would have been a shame to host such a meeting without showing any practical land restoration.

Mr Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya and trains on environmental journalism. [email protected]

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