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FEATURE & VIDEO: Kenya takes a big step forward on climate action

Helen Baker, CDKN Technical Assistance Coordinator for Africa, reports on the exciting progress made through one of CDKN’s country programmes.

Watch a new video to hear a range of stakeholders share their hopes for implementation of Kenya’s Climate Change Action Plan.

In November 2012 over 275 people, including representatives from all of Kenya’s 47 counties, gathered in Nairobi to validate a National Climate Change Action Plan.  This high turnout from civil society groups, private sector organisations, academic institutions and local government emphasised the importance that a wide range of stakeholders are placing on the need for urgent action to meet the climate challenge in Kenya.

Climate change and climate variability pose major threats to the environment, economic growth and sustainable development in Kenya. Some estimates place the cost to Kenya of droughts and flooding at about 2.4 percent of GDP per year.  At the event Jane Ndungu, Chair of the Lake Kenyatta Water Resources Users Association from Lamu county in the northern coastal region of Kenya, reflected on local impacts. “In the 1980s we used to plant in March and the rains started in late March or early April, but currently you cannot predict when the rains will start and when they will end.  It is not predictable.” Despite these challenges, the mood at the validation event was optimistic. “This action plan will provide a set of guidelines for the common Mwananchi (Kenyan citizen) to develop projects and through developing projects have a livelihood that is on a climate resilient path,” said Frankline Omondi, an Environmental Coordinator at Kenya Airways.

Kenya’s public endorsement of the Action Plan confirms that the conundrum of choosing between action on climate change and action on development is a false one; the two are interlinked and will become increasingly so over the coming decades.  As the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Mr. Ali Mohamed, expressed, “Throughout the process [of developing the Plan], I have become convinced that climate change is the most pressing issue of our time, and an area of key economic, social and environmental national importance that deserves recognition and prioritisation at the highest levels.”

Developed over 18 months, the Plan will now integrate climate change into Kenya’s development process.  It provides a low carbon climate resilient pathway, a set of adaptation and mitigation options and is supported by an enabling framework of policy, legislative, financial, capacity building and monitoring instruments. It will particularly inform the current preparation of the next Medium Term Plan for 2013-2017 which sits under Vision 2030, Kenya’s long-term national development blueprint.

The cross-cutting nature of the Action Plan has resulted from strong inter-ministerial collaboration and an extensive consultation process.  Led by the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, development of the Plan was guided by a Task Force drawn from key ministries including finance, planning, energy and agriculture, as well as civil society and private sector organisations.

The consultation process for the Action Plan has exceeded expectations.  John Kioli from the Kenya Climate Change Working Group, an umbrella group for numerous civil society organisations, said, “I feel we really consulted widely … since this is a document under the new constitution that must be consulted [on] throughout the country, there was a very good attempt in informing the people, getting their views, inputting their views and having a document that is well-informed”.

Now that the Plan has been validated, Kenya will be proud to share a summary of the Action Plan and their experience of its development at an official side event at the international climate talks in Doha this week.  This will build international recognition of Kenya as an emerging international leader on climate change action.  The Plan will soon be raised for Cabinet approval in Kenya and implementation will get underway ahead of national elections expected to be held in March 2013.  This quick-start to implementation will focus on embedding climate change into planning processes and will help support sustainability of the Plan throughout the period of changing government.

Watch the video below to hear a range of stakeholders express their hopes for implementation of the Action Plan.

The Action Plan summary can be found here.  Learn more about the project on CDKN’s Kenya project page, where the technical reports which informed the Action Plan will soon be available.

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