The ongoing demolition of structures and evictions in Nairobi on the strength that some are sitting on riparian land or space meant for public utilities comes ahead of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) to be held at the Unep headquarters in Nairobi end of August.
It would be interesting to establish if the actions are a coincidence or are planned to show the country’s commitment to landscape restoration.
Kenya has signed the climate Change Act, 2016, banned plastic bags, and initiated a host of other measures towards environmental protection as provided for in the Constitution and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda covers food security, tied to improved land management including in cities, environmental protection and promotion of the circular economy.
Likely, while the Nairobi Regeneration Team has been working on reorganising the city, the fact that the country will be hosting such a global meeting on finding solutions to meet the challenge of landscape restoration in Africa, where almost 50 million hectares of land is degraded each year, might be playing a role in the intervention.
More than 800 multi-sector stakeholders from across Africa and around the world will meet in Nairobi, along with at least 30,000 people online from August 29 for two days. It will be co-ordinated by the Centre for International Forestry Research (Cifor), UN Environment and the World Bank.
The restoration of degraded land, environmental protection and related are part of the targets given to countries under the Paris Agreement on climate change, of which Kenya is a signatory.
In addition the evictions, including in the Mau Forest and Kibera, demolition of structures across Nairobi, the country is also involved in massive tree planting exercise and a host of other activities ahead of the global meeting on the Paris Agreement later this year.
The Unep leadership has already noted 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.
In recognising the devastating impact of climate change on the country, Kenya initiated a number of interventions to address some of the challenges of climate change.
These include the enacting of the Climate Change Act, 2016, amending of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act 1999 and the development of the National Adaptation Action Plan (2013-17).
In addition, there are sectorial initiatives aimed at addressing the impact of climate change and strengthening the resilience of communities, including the development of several policy documents to guide the country to respond to the effects of climate change, including a National Climate Change Response Strategy.
The environment has been accorded the highest legal provision and given priority in the Constitution, including being recognised in Kenya’s Medium Term Plan II (2013-2017) that has endorsed the development of National Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP), environment and natural resources management policies and Acts reviewed and aligned with the supreme law.
Strategy and action plans have been developed based on public participation principles. This list is by no means capturing everything under Kenya’s prioritisation of the environment agenda.
The idea of the GLF is gaining traction worldwide and member States are eager to entrench practical, continuous cycles of land use and restoration, because studies show good land use management is central to the whole climate change effort.
In addition to the work of the multi-agency team that is working for the regeneration of Nairobi, it would have been a shame for the country to host such a forum without showing any practical steps it has implemented towards land restoration.
Victor Bwireworks for the Media Council of Kenya and trains in environmental journalisn.