The Seventh Devolution Conference officially kicked off yesterday with climate change, specifically the Multi-Level Governance for Climate Action being the main focus.
President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the 7th Annual Devolution Conference in Makueni County stating that climate change impacts have led to a loss of about three per cent of the Gross Domestic Product annually.
In his address, Kenyatta noted that the country needed Sh6.8 trillion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent by 2030.
“Kenya was adversely affected by climate change despite having minimal contribution to climate change. The country was committed to contributing to the global climate action effort,” he said.
“Kenya contributes one per cent to global greenhouse emissions yet we rank as the 31st most vulnerable country to climate change.”
According to the Head of States, in the last two years, the country witnessed the worst locust outbreak in 25 years, which left about one million people food-insecure in the Horn of Africa.
He also attributed the current drought affecting more than two million people to climate change, adding that the country was losing three per cent of its GDP to the crisis.
He said that the national government has adopted a comprehensive set of policies, rules, and procedures to address climate change.
“This effort reflects Kenya’s resolve and desire to play its part in the international community’s efforts to address climate change, including preventing global temperatures from rising above 1.50 Celsius. Further, Kenya recently joined the Adaptation Action Coalition and the UN Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience,” he said.
Kenyatta lauded 33 county governments for enacting legislation related to climate change saying that more is needed to be done in terms of implementation of laws.
The president lauded the arid and semi arid counties of Makueni, Kitui, Marsabit, Isiolo, Garissa and Wajir for establishing climate action funds whose resources go towards combating the serious effects of climate change among the rural communities.
At the same time, he called for increased partnerships between the national and county governments to improve on the gains of devolution.
Kenyatta added that both the National and County Governments will continue working together through the support of the National Climate Change Council, to achieve the 10 per cent forest, and protect our water towers and wetlands.
He said that the Ministry of Environment is targeting providing at least 42.5 million seedlings per county, which would bring the total to the two billion targets required to take Kenya to 10 per cent forest cover.
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Raila Odinga told the delegates that climate change was a matter of life and death, saying concerted efforts needed to be taken to address its adverse effects. He noted that economic growth would also be impacted negatively by the harsh effects of climate change.
He called for strengthening of the devolved units by way of allocating more funds to the county governments. He noted that strong counties would offer more employment opportunities for the youth.
“The strengthening of the counties was the gist of the BBI (Building Bridges Initiative) and it should not have been a divisive issue,” he said.
He called for enhanced cooperation between the two levels of governments, saying neither could succeed when the other was failing.