Africa: Kenya Sets Stage for Global Environmental Talks

Nairobi — Kenya has opened the ground for global environmental discussions ahead of the Fourth Session of United Nations Environmental Assembly set for later in March.

The country's Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko this week opened a meeting of the negotiators of the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) report.

Kenya's Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko addressing the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) at UN Environment.

The four day meeting whose theme is "Healthy Planets, Healthy People"is being held at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi and is attended by over 100 delegates from United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) member states.

The outcome of the negotiations on GEO 6 will be a subject of discussion during the Fourth Session of United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 4) to be held in Nairobi between March 11and 15this year.

In his remarks, the CS highlighted the importance and centrality of the environment in sustainable development noting that environment is life and contributes to economic development and livelihoods.

Environment has a direct correlation to health, water resources, energy, agriculture, food security as well as national, international and global security.

Despite its importance, the CS observed that the environment sector is often not treated as a priority area at national and global spheres in terms of resource allocation and policy priority.

He noted that there is a disconnect between science, policy and action.

"Policies should be based both on science and empirical data, but, often times policies are made on the basis of political convenience and sometimes on vested interests with no reference to science," Tobiko said.

According to the CS, an example is two reports and policy documents that have been disregarded at global multilateral negotiations.

These are the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5 degree centigrade and the UN Environment Emissions Gap Report at the recent COP 24 in Katowice, Poland

The CS stated that there are too many scientific reports that have not been translated into concrete action. Where action has been taken there are no tools or mechanism to monitor and measure impact and effectiveness.

This disconnect he added also exists between science and traditional indigenous knowledge.

Decisions taken are without reference to communities, their culture and traditional knowledge.

"A wealth of knowledge is at risk of disappearing because it is disregarded or ignored by scientists and policy makers. This knowledge has further not been documented neither is it being passed on by the older to the younger generation thus subjecting it to the danger of extinction," Tobiko told delegates.

He has since challenged experts at the meeting to think outside the box, noting that policy makers cannot do the same things in the same way and expect different results.

He has encouraged innovativeness in dealing with environmental challenges.

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