Counties have a duty to protect public spaces for climate change adaptation

The Council of Governors (CoG) will hold the 8th devolution conference this week. The conference theme, “10 Years of Devolution: the Present and the Future” is befitting particularly when seen against the definition of sustainable development.

That is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

It is worthwhile to note that the devolution conference is taking place a month before Kenya hosts the Africa Climate Change Summit.

The global discourse is awash with buzz phrases; energy transition, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environment restoration and conservation, and sustainable development, among others.

It is not in doubt that the future is dependent on how we address the aforementioned issues. Fortunately, Kenya’s Constitution has laid the ground rules while the successive national administrations have progressively put in place mechanisms for the citizenry to experience the constitutional rights therein.

The national and 47 county governments have a shared responsibility in implementing the constitutional obligation as stipulated in Article 42.2), largely achievable through the Climate Change Act 2016 which established the National Climate Change Council (NCCC) chaired by the President and where the chairman of the CoG is a member.

Amongst other important responsibilities, the NCCC is tasked with the responsibility of providing an overarching national climate change coordination mechanism by ensuring that the legislative and policy-making functions of the national and county governments remain mainstream.

It is also expected to ensure that the advice given to those bodies and the measures proposed to counter climate change is geared towards positive climate change response and attaining low-carbon, climate change resilient development.

Suffice it to say, according to a report by the CoG, the county governments have set aside a total of Sh877 million for climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives across Kenya.

It is concerning then that in recently modified survey maps, public spaces have allegedly been allocated to private ownership. Out of the affected, approximately 18 shared natural environment monuments.

They were not only part of yesteryear’s indigenous forest but also among the few remaining Kenya’s cultural heritage and pre-independence historical sites.

Each of the aforementioned hills has unique characteristics but with a common denominator for the much-needed tree growing.

These public spaces are the enabler of our Country’s attainment of low-carbon climate and climate-resilient development as it is here that communities can be mobilised to grow trees and make money from carbon credit proceeds, keep bees, harness biogas and provide guide services for hikers and runners — benefits which will be passed on from the present to the future.

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