1 March 2022, Nairobi -- Kenya is the only country in the world that has specific reference to a target for tree cover in its National Constitution. In addition to this national 10 percent tree cover strategy, Kenya has also embarked on REDD+ actions to drive transformational change in its forest sector as a stepping stone to achieving its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Strides towards this ambition were taken with a project funded by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), with implementation support from UNDP for REDD+ Readiness. The project aimed at supporting Kenya in reaching its overall REDD+ goal of improving livelihoods and well-being, conserving biodiversity, contributing to the national 10 percent tree cover strategy and mitigating climate change for sustainable development. Implemented by the Government of Kenya through UNDP between June, 2018 and December, 2021, the project brought together community and forest stewards, county governments, private sector players, human rights and gender experts and national government agencies from the various land management sectors.
By December, 2021, the main REDD+ elements had been put together including a national REDD+ strategy, a comprehensive framework for safeguards, including the design of a safeguards information system, functional multi-stakeholder engagement and capacity building for REDD+ and a second submission of Kenya’s Forest Reference Level (FRL). Taken in concert, these provide the overall vision, policies, measures and actions to address deforestation, forest degradation and barriers to sustainable forest management in Kenya.
With these elements in place, the country has forged ahead with the support of partners such as Kenya Forest Service, JICA, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, National Land Commission, National Gender and Equality Commission, Council of Governors and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
In addition to submitting its FRL, Kenya has developed a National Forest Monitoring System and has set in place approaches for nesting and reporting and verification of emission reductions. With Article 6 of the Paris Agreement providing more guidance to countries, Kenya is positioning itself to seize the opportunities that both compliance and voluntary carbon markets can offer.
Speaking during the 5th Edition of the Kaptagat tree planting ceremony in Uasin Gishu County, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Chris Kiptoo, stated, “The Ministry is keen to achieve the set goal of 10 percent tree cover. First, we want to address public and gazetted public forests, community forests, waters towers and wetlands to make sure that those that are degraded are restored. In order to do well with the 10 percent tree cover strategy, we must have the legal policy and regulatory frameworks. And this is where our partner UNDP has come in and supported us. Through the REDD+ project, we have the strategy and a number of other documents that are being put in place to achieve this goal.”
Kenya is now well-equipped to transition to the REDD+ Investment Phase, which will lead to a flow of climate finance for the implementation of its NDC. Overall, the positive strides in the REDD+ process will provide multiple benefits that will safeguard the country’s forest and wildlife resources and ensure an optimal and sustainable flow of benefits to all segments of society.
UNDP Kenya Resident Representative, Walid Badawi, stated that, “[our] approach is to work with countries to find win-win solutions through what we call nature-based solutions that ensures that they achieve overall development while conserving the environment. One of our key milestones for the REDD+ project is supporting the government of Kenya in revising the National Forest Policy to inform the implementation of the national REDD+ strategy. This has been made possible with thanks to funding from the World Bank FCPF to UNDP.”
Kenya is a long-time UN-REDD partner country and a former member of the UN-REDD board. UNDP, as a FCPF delivery partner, and UN-REDD have served as a bridge to coalesce FCPF support with UN-REDD experience to equip Kenya in their successful REDD+ path. UNDP is committed to continue working with the government and people of Kenya to pursue long-term, transformative development and to accelerate sustainable climate resilient economic growth while slowing the soaring rates of emissions from the forestry sector.
To this aim, the enhancement of REDD+ activities as a priority NDC mitigation option is fundamentally aligned with the UN-REDD strategic framework 2021 - 2025 aiming to enable forest solutions to the climate emergency.