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Kenya’s Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Their Implications for Environmental Governance

Kenya is a signatory to international multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) which serve as foundations for environmental conservation, global environmental awareness, and sustainable development. The MEA’s come in the form of conventions, treaties, agreements and protocols. These MEA’s serve as cornerstones for conservation of the environment, worldwide environmental awareness, and sustainable environmental development.

Kenya’s commitment to MEAs is extensive, encompassing various agreements addressing diverse environmental issues. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a prime example of this commitment. The CBD which came into force in 1993, is a blueprint legislation that is hinged on the three key principles of focusing on biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity components, and benefit sharing from the commercial utilization of genetic resources. Through this key biodiversity convention, Kenya has effectively safeguarded its resources and biodiversity through various initiatives, such as protecting endangered wildlife species, outlawing illegal ivory trade, and implementing strict penalties for poaching. Kenya has also initiated reforestation efforts to combat climate change. The CBD has therefore been an essential legislation in helping Kenya manage its natural resources in a bid to ensure sustainable environmental governance.

Another key convention that Kenya is a signatory of is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC main aim is challenging global warming that affects the permafrost nations bordering the Arctic and Antarctic, oceanic states and arid and semi-arid nations. The convention is significant in Kenya today and assists in environmental governance in various ways including that Kenya has made significant investments in green energy at all levels, from the national to the county level. Further, systematic EIAs are conducted by NEMA to ensure that pollution levels stay below internationally specified standards. The goal of the convention is to reduce carbon emissions by at least 2% from pre-industrial levels. Additionally, through the UNFCCC Kenya is among the countries that support preserving environmental carbon sinks, such as wetlands and forests, in order to slow down climate change and prevent global warming.

Kenya has also adopted the Montreal Protocol of 1987 that aims to phase out ozone-depleting substances. Kenya’s adherence to this protocol underscores its commitment to protect the stratospheric ozone layer, safeguard human health from harmful UV radiation, and ensure a healthy environment. This can be noted through the strict adherence to the polluter pays principle and the proposal of better reforms to promote policies reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thereby promoting effective environmental governance.

Subsequently, Kenya has also signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 which operationalizes the UNFCCC committing industrialized countries to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This protocol has significantly impacted environmental management and conservation, enhanced energy efficiency and controlling environmental pollutants. Kenya is leading in using green energy and enforcing laws to punish industries that pose a threat to human life. An example is the closure of the battery producing industry at the Kenyan coast that hampered human life through lead pollutant substances.

However, Kenya faces challenges in implementing its environmental commitments due to limited financial resources and competing priorities of economic growth and social development. As much as Kenya’s legal framework for environmental governance has seen significant advancements, there should be put in place strategies to strengthen environmental institutions and also foster a culture of environmental accountability.

In conclusion, Kenya’s engagement with MEAs presents opportunities for strengthening environmental governance. By addressing implementation gaps and capitalizing on emerging opportunities, Kenya can forge a path towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future, safeguarding its ecological well-being and contributing to the health of the planet.