NEMA participates in a successful UNCCD COP12, Ankara, Turkey

Decision makers from 195 member states (about 6000 delegates) attended and discussed solutions to issues related to Desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD). The Executive Secretary of the UNCCD Monique Barbut noting that Land rehabilitation is one of the pathways to sustainable development, by rehabilitating degraded land, many of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would be more attainable. Land that is properly nurtured fosters food and water security and reverses negative climate change impacts such as forced migration, by cultivating opportunities for growth and ensuring stability. To invest in the land is to invest in sustainable livelihoods therefore the goal of COP12 is to provide practical steps to make the rehabilitation of degrading land areas a reality. The Parties were asked to identify ways to contribute to success of the 2015 Climate Change Conference in December in Paris.

NEMA was represented by Dr Kennedy Ondimu the Director Planning and Research Coordination and Mr Francis Inganga the Acting Deputy Director Environmental Rsearch who is also the National Science and Technology Correspondent. The head of the delegation was Mr Richard Mwendnandu of the Director of MEAs at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) as appointed by the Cabinet Secretary. The others from various MDAs and CSOs were as follows: Mutie Nzau, Humphrey Rutto, B. Manyonge, Silas Mulehi, Julius Mwangi, Dr Warugute, Andrew Machora, E. Osoro, Dan Marangu Kithinji, Gibson Kiragu, Frank Msafiri (CSO), George Orina, Dr Jane Wamuongo and Geoffrey Nyamasege. It was the biggest delegation ever participated in UNCCD COP from Kenya.
Mr Inganga, Dr Wamuongo and Julius Mwangi attended and participated in the Committee on Science and Technology (CST -12) meetings and many side events one of which Mr Inganga was a panelist. They also joined the others to participate in the Africa Group meetings almost on daily basis to contribute to the African region position on most of the issues to be negotiated. Mr Mwendandu, Dr Ondimu, Dr Warugute and Dan Kithinji among others participated in the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC-14). During the side event in which Mr Inganga was a panelist he presented a paper entitled: “Drought Risk Management Policies for Sustainable Development: The Kenyan situation” emphasizing the RISKS AND vulnerability of communities in the drylands. Dr Swasuri the Chair of the National Land Commission (NLC) also attended the COP. Three Members of Parliament led by the Deputy Speaker Laboso attended the Parliamentary sessions. Mr Kilonzo Kiema the Ambassador of Kenya to Turkey was also present and assisted the delegates greatly.
It was agreed that the Kenya delegation members should strive to attend all sessions, side events and most important the Contact Groups meetings and Round Table Meetings. Therefore it was agreed during the preparatory meetings that the delegation was hold meetings while in Ankara to strategize on full participation.
Kenya delegation carried the message that the successful twelfth session of the COP will depend on right strategies and tactics of the negotiators. Good teams need to be put in place for negotiations on identified issues of importance for the African (read Kenya) Group. Africa and world community should keep the momentum at the COP level and be open to new positive ideas and proposals for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted recently.
Finally, Kenya was guided in its position by the result of the Africa regional meeting held in Pretoria in preparation for the COP12. Noting that, the African Group, together with G77 and China, will continue to work towards strengthening the implementation of the Convention in close cooperation with other Parties as well as in partnership with NGOs and other components of the civil society.
UNCCD COP 12 opened on Monday the 12th 2015, in Ankara, Turkey. The high-level segment was took place on Tuesday, the 20th and Wednesday the 21st of October 2015. During the high level segment, the Ministers and other head of states held round-table discussions to identify possible solutions to water scarcity, land degradation and desertification while upholding efforts to mitigate the effects of drought and preventing further degradation. It was also noted that through policy implementation, achieving a land degradation neutral (LDN) world is within reach. The round tables had the themes: “the climate change”, “the relationship of the desertification with the water and drought’ and lastly “land degradation neutrality”.

On the 12th, during the opening ceremony, Prof Veysel Eroglu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkey as the COP12 President took over after endorsement from Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Namibia, the President of the COP 11. In his speech Prof Veysel stressed that Climate Change, desertification and drought are among the foremost global challenges today directly affection over 1.5billion people. He challenged everybody to plant one tree seedlings towards addressing these problems.
Welcoming participants, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut after leading the delegates in a minute of silence for the victims of terrorist bombing in Ankara on Saturday the 10th of October, she said that the convention is an “organization in motion” and noted the increased recognition of land issues at the global level, highlighting the inclusion of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target in the SDGs and acknowledgement of the role of land in climate change negotiations. She reiterated that achieving a LDNW is key to achieving progress on other issues, including the water-energy-food nexus and eradication of extreme poverty. She expressed hope for guidance to enhance the scientific base of the Convention, a target-setting approach, and monitoring action programmes at all levels.

After the round-table meetings, the General Assembly Ministerial Session agreed that the decisions of the COP will be presented to the Climate Change Summit that will be held in Paris in December 2015, by the Cop12 president.
Approximately 6,000 participants of the COP adopted 35 decisions following deliberations on agenda items related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), including how to pursue the target to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) and how to align the UNCCD’s goals and parties’ action programmes with the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Parties also considered messages for the Paris Climate Change Conference, which will take place from 30th November to11th December 2015.

It is worth pointing out that all the 35 decisions of the COP12 will have far reaching ramification on affairs of this country in terms of addressing issues of the SDG number 15 and especially the target 15.3. The country needs to move with speed to implement the recently developed National Action Programme (NAP) 2015-2025 for the next 15 years by involving everybody at national and county levels.

 It is crucial that Kenya links UNCCD activities with climate change and biological diversity activities in Kenya (a forum be established where the three UN conventions matters can be transacted in an integrated manner) for the domestication of the same
 Equally for synergetic approach to the three Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNCBD) especially as it touches on implementation and reporting, NEMA and the government should support the participation of all the desk officers in all the COPs of the three conventions for them to understand their interrelationships.
 Kenya to adopt all the 35 decisions arrived at during the COP12 and its related subsidiary bodies
 After alignment of the NAP to The Strategy, Kenya shall have to set aside funds for reviewing the same in the next few years to align it to the SDGs especially the SDG 15 with its target 15.3
 The Government of Kenya to support implementation of the NAP through allocation of funds to the relevant sectors including involvement of CSOs
 The Government of Kenya to support documentation of Best/ good Practices in various parts of the country with a view of reporting on the same to the UNCCD through the PRAIS system next reporting cycle next year 2016
 Enhance information sharing between sectors in the area of DLDD and SLM
 Lobby the government to allocate resources towards meeting the newly adopted SDGs especially the one on LDN (SDG number15 with the target 15.3)

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