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From Paris to Nairobi: Making Accountability in Climate Policy a local affair?

Markus Sherman |

Featured Commitment: Kenya
Commitment 1: More transparent and participatory development of climate policies at the national and subnational level
2016 – 2018 Action Plan 2

OGP is the international platform for major players to launch big ideas to promote open government reforms, while simultaneously providing the structure needed to implement those reforms at a local level. Kenya is an example of an OGP member country that is taking global ideas and putting them into practice on a local level. In their most recent action plan, Kenya laid out ambitious goals for public procurement, anti-corruption, and climate change. Kenya has designed its commitment, “developing transparent and participatory climate policies” to work in tandem with international goals to facilitate institutional change regarding climate action.

 

 

Kenya’s economy is highly dependent on natural resources for agriculture, tourism and extraction, and therefore is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate variability. Changing rainfall patterns and rising sea level are negatively impacting agricultural output across the continent. As a climate action leader in the region, Kenya has taken an ambitious approach to climate variability which includes the development of geothermal and wind energy, and incorporating climate consideration in its budget process.

 

 

As a result of their focus on climate action, Kenya has developed a National Climate Change Framework Policy and Climate Action Plan 2013-2017. In September 2015, Kenyan government Representative to the UN, Ambassador Kamau Macharia, acted as co-chair of the Open Working Group and subsequent intergovernmental negotiations of the Post 2015 Agenda process that resulted in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In December 2015, Kenya acceded to the Paris Agreement which speaks to the need to strengthen transparency and accountability mechanisms.

 

 

Prior to the development of the OGP national action plan, climate change policy in Kenya lacked sufficient mechanisms to ensure transparency, public participation, and accountability as called for in the Paris agreement and SDGs. The activities included in this commitment aim to increase citizen involvement in environmental policy and make more information available to citizens by developing transparent multi-stakeholder consultative processes to operationalize the 2016 Climate Change act, establishing the Climate Change Council and Directorate, developing and publishing user-friendly forestry data sets and developing and approving new climate policy.

 

 

The implementation of this commitment has come with great success, but also with setbacks.  So far, Kenya has ratified the Paris Agreement and developed their own climate change policy framework. Civil society has also been consulted through the Kenya Climate Working Group (KCCWG) climate hearing forums and the National Climate Change Council (NCCC) – consisting of 9 representatives from government, private and civil society sectors – has been assembled but not installed. As for the setbacks, cooperation between CSOs and the government was tested when the Ministry of Environment dropped candidates for CSO representatives to the NCCC after they had gone through a vetting process and were determined by Civil Society to be the best candidates. CSOs including Transparency International Kenya and others contested the appointment arguing for greater openness in the selection process and filed a court case in early 2017. The government responded and a court date was set in the interest of cooperation for mutual benefit.

 

Kenya’s commitments and efforts to date exemplify the climate change and sustainable development core priority laid out by France and the World Resources Institute as co-Chairs of the OGP Steering Committee. They state that OGP can help strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by injecting principles of transparency, participation and accountability into climate commitments. Kenya is one of the first countries to implement this priority into its action plan, and has found success in implementation and collaboration with CSOs and other stakeholders. As extreme climate events become more common, more countries must commit to shared goals to mitigate the effects. Through collaboration, innovation, and successful implementation of global agreements at a local level, Kenya can pioneer transparency and participation in climate mitigation efforts.