Kenya has endorsed a draft Ministerial Declaration reaffirming Africa’s commitment in protecting and sustainably managing its environment and natural resources despite challenges and constraints brought about by the Covid- 19 pandemic.
Speaking during a virtual meeting of Environment and Natural Resources Ministers in Africa under the auspicious of the Africa Union, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said Kenya shares environmental conservation ideals like other nations and bodies like the United Nations.
“Covid-19 is a disruptor that has given the world an opportunity to self- evaluate and turn the tide from a brown to a green recovery path premised on the philosophy of prevention is better than cure. The virus has focused governments to divert resources for climate change and other socio- economic development to address the pandemic; just like greenhouse gases, Covid- 19 respects no boundaries and both pose existential threat to our survival,” said Tobiko.
The session aimed at collectively identify strategies to address the impact of Covid- 19 on the environment and the socio- economic development of Africa.
Tobiko underscored that Kenya echoes the sentiments of world leaders, including the UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Gutters, Environment and Finance Ministers that underscores the need for climate action that underpins sustainable development and post Covid- 19 green recovery strategy by embedding climate commitments into post Covid- 19 recovery packages that are nature focused.
He affirmed Kenya’s alignment to the resolutions of the African Union on environmental sustainability as a foundation for our socio- economic development and adequate climate finance as a critical enabler of green recovery and achievement of African Agenda 2063.
The CS pledged the Kenya’s support to the proposed African Green Stimulus Programme as a vehicle to help respond and recover from the devastating impacts of Covid-19.
“The objective of the Economic Stimulus Programme is to return the economy to the growth trajectory as it was prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will stir increased demand for local goods and services, take the edge off vulnerable Kenyans, securing household food security for the poor, and creating employment and incomes. Most importantly, the programme sought to enhance liquidity in support of the business sector, particularly micro and small enterprises,” he noted.
Moreover, he applauded the government for the establishment of a national Covid-19 Fund and a stimulus package of KES 54 Billion out of which Sh2billion for forestry and climate change response measures.
In regard to afforestation and reduce land degradation, the CS said the government was in the process of establishing a National Tree Fund to support the private sector activities in commercial forestry and create green jobs for our youth.
“To further contain the virus, the government with support from the World Bank initiated the Kazi Mtaani project in May 2020 to afford social relief by providing jobs whilst facilitating hygienic interventions in the informal settlements. Phase one of the project piloted in eight counties employed 31,689 youths earning KES 742 million. Similarly plans to roll out phase two is on course and will cover all the 47 counties, some of the targeted activities aimed at environmental protection and conservation include improved flood control, creation of new water infrastructure and tree planning,” CS said.
He added that the pandemic and climate has tested our survival system to the limit which has provoked our resourcefulness as a nation to cope with unlimited challenges of Covid-19