Establishment of National Biodiversity Coordination Mechanism in Kenya

Kenya makes strides towards coordination of biodiversity matters and establishes a National Biodiversity Coordination Mechanism (NBCM) to coordinate its stakeholders

History was written on 27th July, 2022, on a momentous day that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, with the support of the BIODEV2030 Initiative convened its stakeholders to discuss the need and establishment of a National Biodiversity Coordination Mechanism (NBCM). This move was meant to improve coordination and cooperation among others, multi-sectoral agencies, actors and stakeholders with mandates and responsibilities on matters relating to biodiversity at the international, national, county, and local levels.

Mr. Cyrus Mageria, the Director of Multilateral Environmental Agreements at the Ministry of Environment Forestry welcomed and opened the Stakeholders Dialogue on the NBCM.

Source: (c) Cicilia Githaiga, GIZ

This need for the mechanism was established against the backdrop of the multitude of international environmental processes, engagements, and implementation of obligations under various treaties, conventions, agreements and processes that need effective coordination and implementation. Mr. Mageria stated that there is a multitude of agencies and institutions, stakeholders and actors need to be coordinated to work together for the common good and enhance better outcomes for biodiversity and the environment. Mr. Mageria also advised that this mechanism would provide an opportunity to bring all stakeholders together to support harmonized action towards protection and conservation of biodiversity while ensuring that the Government of Kenya is able to capture and report on its  international obligations through such avenues as the Kenya National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan  (NBSAP). While calling all stakeholders to support the collaborative effort, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry was optimistic that this concerted action would strategically and harmoniously promote policies, research, and practices that support the multitude of sectors and actors to contribute to protection,  conservation and mainstreaming of biodiversity and conservation outcomes. He also advised that other matters such as access and benefit sharing under the Nagoya Protocol would also be addressed as part of efforts to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). He went on to state that this initiative would also serve to protect the environment, livelihoods and the economy for the sake of everyone and the future generations. Mr. Mageria stated that among the prioritised strategic actions of the NBCM was the development of a National Biodiversity Policy which will create a platform through which all stakeholders voices would be heard.

Dr. Lucy Ng’ang’a, also of the Directorate of MEAs at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry then made a presentation on the outcomes of SUBSSTA 24, SBI and the Post 2020 Process laying emphasis on various aspects that needed action, intervention, and more focus and input from the Kenyan stakeholders. Stakeholders thanked Dr. Ng’ang’a for the updates from the international  perspective and requested that more funds to be availed to facilitate participation of more negotiators and engagement of stakeholders in international processes. While requesting stakeholders to work together and to pool resources to ensure that there is funding for our joint activities she encouraged stakeholders set aside funds for our mutual work and to plan to jointly finance our activities. 

Dr. Lucy Ng’ang’a presented a brief on the outcomes of SUBSSTA 24, SBI and the Post 2020 Process.

Source: (c) Cicilia Githaiga, GIZ

Stakeholders keenly follow the proceedings on establishment of the NBCM.

Source: (c) Cicilia Githaiga

Dr. Joram Kagombe presenting the BIODEV2030 Project case study.

Source (c) Cicilia Githaiga

Among other presentations, a team of consultants presented the IUCN BIODEV2030 Project case study which settled on Kajiado County as its pilot location. The team was led by Dr. Joram Kagombe who was assisted by Dr. Magrate Kaigongi and Dr. Antony Macharia. The BIODEV2030 Project seeks ‘to create the necessary (sic) conditions for a national dialogue involving stakeholders around strategic economic sectors relevant to the country’s economy and biodiversity’. The Consultancy sought to identify options and scenarios of voluntary commitments from biodiversity in agriculture and forestry sectors in dryland ecosystems in Kenya. The meeting was asked to give their input from the floor to beef up the report with further input set to be received in writing to enable the consultants to capture the stakeholders’ views. Franscis Okalo of IUCN also presented the work of IUCN on Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs).

Dr. Ullrich Klins of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative of  GIZ made a presentation on how to add value to biodiversity more strategically while showing the interplay between and amongst stakeholders along value chains from the time of access to resources, processing of ingredients all the way to product development and availability of products to  the consumer. Dr. Klins noted that Kenya’s economic sectors relied heavily on natural resources and that it was good to discuss how therefore to add value to biodiversity through a process, for example using a more strategic approach that covers knowledge about international market, growth rates of relevant sectors, market entrance requirements and capacities existing in the provider country. In this context, the ABS regulations provide an option for national revenues as it obliges the user of a genetic resource to share the benefits derived from that resource (e.g. a product). While explaining what ABS is, he highlighted that value chains based on genetic resources differ significantly, e.g. a value chain on tea includes different processes, actors, processing steps and research product development than a value chain focusing the on the production of a new perfume. He went on to advise that a value chain was a process of adding value to resources in almost all steps of the process up to the marketing of a consumer product, but most of these value additions – as well as the investments and costs – appear outside of the provider country of the genetic resource. This could be changed by developing a more strategic approach to add value to the genetic resources. He went on to explain the interplay between the various processes, the transformations, the actors and trade amongst actors along value chains while highlighting different stakeholders had varied roles and interests that needed to be taken into account.  In this context, he took members through a sample valorisation strategy, which could be based on knowledge on the existing genetic resources and their abundance as well as knowledge on the private sector players involved, their capacity and understanding of value chains, the national and international regulatory frameworks on the one hand and knowledge about the demands, markets, trends, obligations and R&D processes, quality standards, etc. on the other. A valorisation strategy thus should go beyond harvesting processes to include good knowledge and decision-making which considers the demand side and the processes abroad, once the genetic resource leaves the provider country.  Therefore, it would be very useful for Kenya to develop its valorisation strategy wherein the Country would define its way forward and priorities as far as value addition to resources involving biological diversity is concerned. 

Dr. Martin Oulu, the Coordinator of the Intersectoral Forum on Agrobiodiversity and Agroecology (ISFAA) also presented the ISFAA Forum as a model example of an existing coordination platform from which the stakeholders could see the lessons learnt. He advised that the aim of the group was to provide a platform through which stakeholders at the intersection of biodiversity conservation and agricultural production can interact to discuss, share knowledge and information, influence policy, fundraise, implement joint programmes, and monitor and review progress towards mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services in the agricultural sector and landscapes.

Dr. Martin Oulu presenting on the ISFAA model of collaboration.

Source: (c) Cicilia Githaiga

Dr. Oulu also advised that the ISFAA platform comprised seven thematic working groups (TWGs) along the following themes: policy and law TWG; national and international engagement TWG; biosafety, GMOs and seed sovereignty TWG; principles, practices, knowledge management and climate change TWG; access and benefit sharing TWG; county engagement TWG and the private sector and markets TWG being the last TWG to be formed. He also mentioned that the private sector and markets TWG was scheduled to meet the following day and invited all colleagues to join the group and attend the meeting where the leadership of the group would be selected and work planning would ensue.  

The coordination mechanism is still in its formative stages and in line with the Ministry of Environment’s call, all stakeholders are urged to act urgently and in concert. We were happy to have been part of this process and we look forward to seeing the outcome of these deliberations.