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Kenya Ready for the UNE-6

By Hon. Soipan Tuya

As Kenya, we are, once again, proud to welcome to Nairobi all delegates from the 193 United Nations Member States including Heads of State and Government; colleague Ministers of Environment and other high-ranking Dignitaries and UN Officials for the 6th Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) from 26th February to 1st March this year under the Presidency of the Kingdom of Morocco with the theme “Effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”.

As you may be aware, UNEA is the world’s highest-level decision-making body for matters related to Environment. UNEA sets the global environmental agenda, provides overarching policy guidance and defines policy responses to address emerging environmental challenges. Most importantly, UNEA undertakes environmental policy review and provides strategic direction for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEA-6 has been organised around six thematic areas that were considered by members in developing the draft resolutions to compel more effective, inclusive and sustainable multi-lateral action. As a result, twenty-two resolutions have been developed and are being negotiated by the member states along five clusters.

It is a privilege for Kenya to host UNEA every two years in Nairobi by virtue four Country being the global headquarters of UNEP, which is one of the two United Nations agencies headquartered in the Global South. The other one being UN Habitat which is also headquartered here in Nairobi.

Kenya continues to live up to its high international ranking as the environment capital of the world by being a trailblazer in climate action. In September last year, Kenya hosted the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, a 3-day high level conference, held alongside the 2023 annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Africa Climate Week, during which the African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call-to-Action was agreed upon and unveiled.
The Nairobi Declaration as the blueprint is popularly referred to, carries Africa’s climate action aspirations and has since become the continent’s main reference document at international fora including the 28th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, The UAE. At the core of the Nairobi Declaration, is Africa’s resolve to pursue green growth by leveraging her immense climate action potential in sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, critical minerals and blue economy among others.

As Kenya, we are actively integrating the Nairobi Declaration into our Country’s broad climate action agenda including reviewing our laws, regulations, strategies and programmes to reflect Africa’s climate action priorities as documented in the Nairobi Declaration. For example, and as you may know, last year we successfully amended the Climate Change Act to provide for a more progressive carbon markets framework. Following last week’s public participation meeting, we are now at the tail-end of establishing regulations to back the Climate Change Act. We are also reviewing the Forest Act, the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) and its regulations among others. Kenya’s first ever National Forest Policy was recently passed and its main objective is to provide a framework for improved forest governance, resource allocation, partnership and collaboration. Further, last year, we made history by recruiting, training and successfully deploying a record 2,664 Forest Rangers.

Kenya is also accelerating the transformation of Kenya’s lineal waste management system into circular economy. As a result, Kenya will hold a side event on circular economy during UNEA-6 to appreciate the strides the country has made in implementing waste polices to address pollution control and best practices in circular economy and extended producer responsibilities.

His Excellency President Dr. William Ruto’s administration is clear on the need for solutions to our environmental challenges illustrated in the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto (The PLAN) and demonstrated through some of the programmes we are rolling out as a Country. Kenya’s National Landscapes and Ecosystem Restoration Strategy, the anchor blueprint for the flagship 15 Billion National Tree Programme that gave our Country the first National Tree Growing Day (Green Holiday) on 13th November last year is one such ambitious initiative that we are fully committed to as a Ministry and as a Government.

As part of Kenya’s deep commitment to achieving 30% tree cover by 2032 through growing of 15 Billion trees, 30% of which will be fruit and fodder species to contribute to our Country’s food and nutritional security and household incomes, the over 6,000 delegates expected in Nairobi for UNEA-6 will all be requested to take time off and grow trees at sites to be communicated.

It is also important to note that as host President and Chairperson of the Committee of the African Union Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), His Excellency President Dr William Ruto will deliver UNEA-6 National and Welcoming Statement on 29th February 2024 at the high-level segment that will be attended by several other visiting Heads of State and Government, and dignitaries. On the same day in the evening, and in line with the established UNEA tradition, I will host a reception for all delegates during which we will showcase Kenya’s world celebrated hospitality.

During the entire duration of UNEA-6, February 26th to March 1st, there will be a showcase of Kenya’s rich cultural heritage, climate action potential and touristic offering to visiting delegates at the venue. We thank UNEP for allowing us to set up Kenya House at the venue.

UNEA-6, will, without doubt, be an intense week of many related activities including bilateral meetings and hundreds of side events. I encourage media to keenly follow the conversations and report outcomes of these meetings.

As the host country, we look forward to the outcome of UNEA 6 being the Ministerial Declaration, the adoption of the resolutions and decisions and that UNEA-6 will enhance the solutions to the Triple Planetary Crisis of Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and Pollution.

The writer is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry of Kenya

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Climate Investment Funds Endorses Kenya’s $70 million Plan for 100 percent Clean Energy

The Trust Fund Committee of the Climate Investm ent Funds (CIF)has endorsed a $70 million plan, with an initial allocation of $46.39 million, to advance the integration and utilisation of renewable energy in the Kenyan grid, enabling the country’s transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2030. This approval, as part of CIF’s Renewable Energy Integration (REI) investment program, will support Kenya’s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 and achieve Net Zero by 2050.

The initiative will see Kenya’s CIF REI plan support access to clean, adequate, affordable, and reliable electricity in the country. It is expected to mobilize at least an additional $243 million from the public and private sectors through implementing partners—the African Development Bank and the World Bank Group.

Currently, the share of renewable energy in Kenya is almost 90 percent – including 45 percent geothermal and 26 percent hydropower,but the system faces challenges. During evening hours, it struggles to meet peak demand, but later, at night, generation surpluses from geothermal and wind are sometimes not dispatched.

Kenya’s REI investment plan will improve dispatch, grid stability, and flexibility to address these issues. It will facilitate future private sector investment in innovative storage technologies, such as battery storage and pumped hydropower. The energy system will also be better prepared for a significant increase in electric mobility and cooking. The plan contributes to the expansion of variable renewable energy, such as wind and solar, from 19 percent to 30 percent by 2030.

CIF has established the pioneering REI program precisely to address the issues linked to the deployment of clean and intermittent power sources in developing economies. REI can support a mix of supply/demand side flexibility measures— enabling technologies, enabling infrastructure, market design and system operations improvement, and electrification and demand management; while advancing social inclusion and leveraging private sector financing.

Ten countries have been selected to take part in this program, with Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, and Mali’s investment plans endorsed by the CIF Trust Fund Committee in 2023.

Press

Knight Science Journalism Program (KSJ) announces Fellowship for Advancing Science Journalism

The Knight Science Journalism Program (KSJ) has announced Fellowship for Advancing Science Journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The fellowship aims to enrich the training of a journalist from Africa or the Middle East so they can contribute to a culture of high-quality science and health journalism in those regions, as well as raising awareness of regional advances in the rest of the world.
This new one-semester fellowship created in partnership with Springer Nature, publisher of Nature Middle East, which grew to be an important contributor to science reporting. It was inspired by the life and career of Egyptian science journalist Mohammed Yahia’s leadership from 2010-2023.
The fellow will join other KSJ fellows in a program of study at MIT and other Cambridge/Boston area universities and in the program’s seminars, training workshops and field trips throughout the semester.
To be eligible for the fellowship, applicants must:
Be journalists based in Africa and/or the Middle East with at least three years’ experience reporting on science, health or environmental issues in the region.
Be reporters, writers, editors, producers, illustrators, filmmakers, or photojournalists. This includes work for newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and digital media.
For more, read

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Ivorian space scientist to lead STI Division of the AU

Ivorian Dr Tidiane Ouattara is the new Head of the Science, Technology and Space Division at the African Union Commission’s Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.
In this capacity, Dr Tidiane will lead efforts to formulate, harmonise, coordinate, and implement policies that will transform the continent into an innovation-led and knowledge-based economy.
The Division of Science, Technology and Space raises the awareness on the central role of science, technology and innovation (STI) in socio-economic development; promotes public understanding and participation, building human and institutional capacities for STI.
Dr Ouattara previously worked as a lecturer at his alma mater, Sherbrooke University, Canada, and then with the Canadian government in various space application and management roles covering earth observation, policy and research, strategy, and international relations. He joined the AU in 2016 where he served as the GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator, an AU-EU joint initiative funded by the European Commission.
Dr Tidiane Ouattara has a PhD and a master’s degree in Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) from Sherbrooke University, Quebec, Canada and a master’s degree in Physical Geography from Université de Cocody, Abidjan, Côte-d’Ivoire.

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$15M additional funding to tackle food waste around the world

Work tackling the huge environmental cost of food waste has been given a massive boost this year, as international climate action NGO WRAP receives catalytic funding from the Ballmer Group.

The $15M funding will support essential work by WRAP and our partners in tackling food loss and waste through existing Voluntary Agreements in South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico and to create a new food waste voluntary agreement in Brazil. The funding covers ongoing work with money allocated to each nation to increase the systemic Target-Measure-Act approach to reduce food waste across supply chains and in the home, which globally are responsible for around 10% of all Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

David Rogers, International Director at WRAP said, “This funding is an absolute game-changer, and the largest philanthropic donation WRAP has received for our work around the world. It marks a transformational moment, bringing substantial, multi-year funding to scale up the impact of food waste voluntary agreements around the world. We know the model works, having proven it first in the UK before working with our excellent partners to support them in adapting it to local contexts and challenges. We are incredibly grateful to The Ballmer Group for the funding at this critical time, with just six years left to halve food waste by 2030.”

The Public-Private Partnership model, or Voluntary Agreement, utilises a Target-Measure-Act approach to coordinate and drive action by key partners along the global supply chains that produce our food. They can deliver significant and lasting reductions in food waste with the model proving particularly successful in the UK, where the Courtauld 2030 voluntary commitment has seen retailers and manufacturers cut their business food waste by nearly 30%.

WRAP has helped to establish and support six food pacts, building from the blueprint of the Courtauld 2030 model. The climate action NGO is working with the partners delivering the agreements in each nation as they adapt the approach to suit their unique situations. Together, this international network provides a co-ordinated group of actors aligned to a shared ambition, mirroring the approach WRAP instigated to tackle plastic pollution through a series of national Plastics Pacts.

The announcement of the grant follows the recent publication of the Philanthropic Roadmap’ (Reducing Food Loss and Waste – A Roadmap for Philanthropy).

Involving 50 expert organisations and led by the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), WRAP, ReFED and the World Resources Institute (WRI). With funding from the Bezos Earth Fund, the Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation, the IKEA Foundation and the Robertson Foundation, the Philanthropic Roadmap gives a blueprint identifying $300,000,000 in ready-to-fund philanthropic investments that can deliver major improvements for the climate, economy, and society by cutting food waste. National coordination through voluntary agreements is viewed as a major route to driving change.

“We have the partnerships, the framework, and the expertise to make inroads into global food waste, but what’s been missing has been serious investment at the global level. That’s why support by The Ballmer Group, and the creation of a dedicated ‘Philanthropic Roadmap’, are such important developments. Both can help fix our failing food system and help tackle climate change, and both show that investment – whether philanthropic or governmental – are crucial to help repair our failing food system,” said David Rogers.

WRAP’s work around the world

With offices in the UKAustralia and the USA, WRAP works globally with governments, businesses, and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency within the food system, plastics and in textiles. The organisation takes UK learning and successes and works with in-country partners to develop programmes that fully address the needs of the local area. It has programmes operating in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Americas. It recently brought representatives from Red de Bancos de Alimentos de México (BAMX) and the Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBCSD) to COP28 to outline the impact public-private partnerships are making in those countries.

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South Africa hosts first in-person meeting of Plastics Pacts Network

The first ever meeting of the international members of the Plastics Pact Network  convened in South Africa this week, with delegates from around the world meeting in Cape Town. The inaugural three-day intensive programme is a chance for all to share experiences and knowledge to accelerate critical work reducing the global impact of plastic waste, and pollution.

Representatives from twelve of the thirteen Plastics Pact Network members – convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WRAP – attended from Australia (representing New Zealand and four Pacific Islands), Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, the UK, and the USA.

The public/private partnership model or voluntary agreement, adopted by many nations ahead of the United Nations Global Treaty to end plastic pollution, drives practical action around a comprehensive plastics’ circular economy approach that embeds elimination and reuse within measurable targets. Each Pact is working independently across the packaging value chain in its own geography to bring together key players to address its own unique situation.

Pact members include major FMCG brands, packaging companies, producers, traders, processors, academia, trade associations, NGOs, and governments who are all working towards a shared vision, with business signatories measured against a series of science-based targets to reduce the impact they have on the environment through their use of plastics. The Network connects those individual national and regional initiatives to better implement solutions towards a circular economy for plastic.

More than 800 major businesses are signed up to all thirteen Plastics Pacts with the combined population impacted by their work estimated to be in the region of as many as 2.4 billion people, or 30% of the world’s population. Today’s meeting was the first time the majority had sat down to share their learnings in person, with WRAP’s CEO Harriet Lamb opening the inaugural meeting.

Harriet Lamb said “With plastic in the bloodstreams of animals and fish, we need to ramp up action on plastics across the world through regulation and voluntary action. We welcome the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations underway and call for an ambitious Treaty. Alongside that, we need to fast-track collaborative action by companies, governments, and civil society. That is the power of this voluntary network, bringing together members from across the world to share best practice – from major companies to waste-pickers to bring about practical, empowering change.” 

Whilst regulation is critical, public/private partnerships delivered through the Plastics Pact model accelerate action and deliver tangible results. These collaborative partnerships can play a key role as a mechanism for nations to meet mandated obligations under the United Nations Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution.

The All-Plastic Pacts workshop will share best practices, insights, and experiences of what works in terms of member engagement, collaborative projects, and policy influence to achieve impact on the ground. It will identify approaches to accelerate progress within each country, with all at varying stages in their journey. The three-day workshop will also explore the future ambition of the Network and how it can have more impact.

The meeting will also begin important preparations for the first global report across the entire Pact Network, which will present the impact achieved by all thirteen Plastics Pacts. This report will be published in preparation for the next round of INC4 discussions for the Global Plastics Treaty framework, taking place in Ottawa this April.

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Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit–MARS Awards 2023 of Best African Women Researchers

CEO of Merck Foundation Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej and Scientific Committee announced and recognized the winners of Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit – MARS Awards 2023 winners.

Six researchers from six different African Countries were awarded in two categories – Best African Women Researchers and Best African young Researchers.

Like every year since 2016, I am extremely proud of our 6 Winners of MARS Awards this year who have been recognized under the two categories of ‘Best African Women Researchers Awards’ and ‘Best African Young Researcher Awards’ for their valuable contribution in research, especially by African Female Researchers who are under presented in this field, as we all know. Through Merck Foundation African Research Summit – MARS Awards, we aim to empower African young researchers and of course to empower and encourage African women researchers through advancing their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” said Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit -MARS expressed,
The winners of 
‘Best African women Researchers Awards’ and ‘Best African Young Researcher Awards’ will be enrolled into research training at a premier institute in India.

“And I am also very happy to share with you all that as promised, we provided an opportunity to one of first winner of each category, however, only 
Ms. Stella Irungu from Kenya was able to attend the 4-day long International Federation of Fertility Societies – The IFFS World Congress 2023, held recently in Athens, Greece”, shared Senator Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people and has been transforming the Patient care landscape and making history together with its partners in Africa, Asia, and beyond, by providing 
1700 Scholarships for doctors from 50 Countries in 42 critical and underserved medical specialties.

“Out of our 1700 scholarships, we have provided more than 535 scholarships for clinical and practical training for Fertility & Embryology, PG Diploma & Master Degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Clinical Psychiatry, Women’s Health, Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction & Embryology, Urology, Laparoscopic Surgical skills to doctors from 39 countries across Africa and Asia. We are proud of this achievement”, added 
Dr. Rasha Kelej.

The award ceremony was attended by Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, OFR, President of African Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), President of The Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria & Secretary General of International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Nigeria and Prof. Dr. Satish Kumar Adiga, Head, Department of Reproductive Science and Coordinator at Fertility Preservation Centre, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India.

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, OFR shared, “I extend my congratulations to all the deserving recipients of the MARS Awards 2023. The received entries demonstrated exceptional quality of research. This platform holds significant value for African women and young researchers dedicated to health research.”