February 17th 2018

Society / Environment

Key stakeholders outline Kenya’s climate plans after COP 22

Topping the list among the issues that need attention before the next conference was ensuring inclusive, gender, youth and special groups’ participation in climate change meetings and stakeholders’ forums.

By Jonathan OdongoFriday, 16 Dec 2016 15:48 EAT

Participants at the meeting. (Photo: Jonathan Odongo/Kenya Free Press).

Kenya held its first post COP 22 meeting on Tuesday 13 December, about three weeks after the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Marrakech. The meeting held at Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment’s Climate Change Directorate and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), brought together stakeholders from civil society, youth, gender, government and private sectors to share outcomes of the conference, exchange experiences and deliberate on the next steps towards the next conference (COP 23).

Observations and experiences

During the meeting, the participants observed that the gender issues were well covered during the conference. “The gender agenda was one of the big winners at the COP22,” said Wanjira Maathai, the Green Belt Movement Chairperson. Her sentiments were seconded by Winfred Lichuma, the Chairperson of the National Gender and Equality Commission.

African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) appreciated inclusion of youth in the national team of delegates. “We are happy that youth became part of this year’s national delegation,” said Fred Ouma, the National Coordinator of AYICC. Mr Ouma urged the government to consider mentoring and building the capacity of the youth as future negotiators by creating an official youth arm of the national delegation.

Not all was smooth though. The agriculture talks stalled and will be resumed at a later date while climate finance has proven to be an elusive issue. “Even though the world celebrated coming into force of Paris Agreement, finance is not flowing as envisaged,” Dr Stephen King’uyu of the Climate Change Directorate said.

He, however noted that that Kenya needs to urgently submit its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to take advantage of the USD3 million per country approved by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board through the GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme for NAP support.

Time for Action

The participants expounded on the urgency to take climate action as well as to implement the Paris Agreement. “This is the time to take action and provide results rather than just talking,” said Mr. Suresh Patel on behalf of the private sector. According to the Directorate, Kenya has ratified the Paris Agreement and what remains is submission of the instruments of ratification to the UNFCCC secretariat.

“We have done our bit; the parliament has done its bit. What is left is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit the instruments of ratification to the secretariat,” said Dr Charles Mutai, the Director of Climate Change Directorate. Dr Pacifica Ogola, the Director of Climate Change Directorate Programmes, said: “After ratification, we have to implement the Agreement. There are no two ways about it.”

Opportunities for everyone in the fight against climate change

Dr Ogola called for collaboration while assuring the representatives that there are opportunities for all stakeholders in the fight against climate change. “There are opportunities for private sector, civil society organizations, the youth and women in mitigation and adaptation and implementation on Nationally Determined Contributions,” she said.

While highlighting the roles of CCAFS, Catherine Mungai said that CCAFS has been working with the African Group of Negotiators to ensure the integration of agriculture into the climate change in negotiations. “We will continue to work with the African Group of Negotiators to ensure effective outcomes during the negotiations,” she said. She added that CCAFS was supporting research activities seeking to help Kenya measure its own emissions. “Kenya needs to develop her own country based emissions measurement instruments and not rely entirely on IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimates.”

Eng. Omedi Jura called for moral and financial support of the Directorate’s efforts in the fight against climate change in the country. “We really need your support to get things done.” Ms Maathai called for finding a balance between energy needs and energy preferences while promoting clean energy as a solution to climate change. “We often talk about energy needs but always ignore energy preferences of the communities we work with.” She said.

Next steps in preparation for the next conference

Topping the list among the issues that need attention before the next conference was ensuring inclusive, gender, youth and special groups’ participation in climate change meetings and stakeholders’ forums. “We will do this in collaboration with relevant bodies such as the National Gender and Equality Commission, the department of Youth Affairs, the special groups and others,” said Dr Mutai.

Other issues highlighted include: enhancement of Kenya’s views and submissions to inform negotiations, strategies on agenda on issues relating to agriculture, Kenya’s readiness to access the Green Climate Funds, organizing post COP 22 and pre COP23 meetings at national and county levels and training of delegates in climate change negotiations and diplomacy. “It would be important to train delegates in climate change negotiations and diplomacy prior to conferences to curb undiplomatic behaviours that arose in some instances,” Dr Mutai said, amidst laughter when he cited some specific incidents without mentioning names.

Kenya’s preparedness to host next COP in Africa

The idea about whether Kenya can position itself to host the next COP to Africa, probably COP26, generated animated discussions on the cost implications and Kenya’s economic and infrastructural ability to host conferences of such magnitude. “These things involve a lot of money and infrastructure but who knows? May be we will be ready in 2 or 3 years’ time!” Fatuma Hussein, an experienced negotiator from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, said expressing optimism.

The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP 23) will be held in Germany from 6th to 17th November 2017 under the presidency of Fiji while COP 24 will be held in Poland from 3rd to14th December 2018 and COP 25 in Latin America and the Caribbean States from 11th to 22th November 2019. But 2018 remains the most important year since countries are set to take stock of progress and review their action plans in the light of Paris Agreement ahead of conclusion of the rulebook for the Paris Agreement

The writer is the founder and executive director of the Kenya Environmental Education Network

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