Participants in a group photo during the CEOs Policy Dialogue Forum [PHOTO: SAMWEL IRUNGU/NEMA]
The Greater Eastern Africa Region is facing serious environmental and sustainability challenges. Most of these environmental issues are trans-boundary in nature and pose a hindrance to the attainment of the newly crafted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be ratified by world governments later in the year.
To address this, the East African Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE) was established in 2010. This is an informal network of government agencies which have in their mandate environmental management, compliance and enforcement responsibilities in the East African.
Towards this end, the Director Generals / Executive Directors in charge of environmental regulatory bodies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda met in Naivasha at Sopa Lodge on 11th and 12th September 2015 in a high level workshop under the platform CEOs Policy Dialogue Forum on Green Growth and Environmental Compliance to discuss common environmental problems regionally.
In attendance were; the PS Environmental and Natural Resources, Dr. Richard Lesiyampe, Tanzania’s National Environment Management Council, Director General Mr. Bonaventure Baya, NEMA Kenya Director General Prof Geoffrey Wahungu, Environmental Directors from NEMA Uganda, donors, NEMA management, multilateral institutions and key donors, representatives of select civil societies, NGOs, academia, and the private sector.
Speaking during the forum, Dr. Richard Lesiyampe urged environmental agencies to do everything possible to protect the environment for the sake of future generations. He remarked such agencies should be come up with more creative ideas on how to raise funds to address issues of climate change and destruction of the environment. “There should be more creative and generate ideas that would help us in planning ahead of impeding disasters”, the PS said.
The PS reiterated government’s commitment to foster Green Economy adding that key projects on green growth are already underway. “It is therefore incumbent on all of us to value our ecosystem’s goods and services as countries in the region strive for ambitious gross domestic product results” the PS remarked.
NEMA Director General, Prof Geoffrey Wahungu noted that environment knows no boundaries and hence a collaborative effort that transcends national boundaries is essential in ensuring environmental compliance. “It is my conviction that strong national and regional networks will promote in-country and cross-border cooperation amongst agencies involved in management of environment” Prof Wahungu said.
He informed the members that EANECE will continue to enhance cooperation on both national and regional basis between the relevant institutions through exchange, training and sharing of good practices on environmental compliance and enforcement.
In addition to presentations by various stakeholders, a panel session moderated by Joe Ageyo was conducted which involved Directors from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania while another one entailed Directors from the three countries. The session was meant to send light on some of the emerging issues on environment among the three countries. Moreover, the input from the members during the session was vital in shaping the way forward for East Africa on environmental compliance and enforcement.
Tanzania’s National Environment Management Council, Director General Mr. Bonaventure Baya was categorical that East Africa should come together to address environmental challenges. He stated that although the three countries have different strengths and challenges due to variations on their laws, they should come together for the sake of environment. This will make it easy to address trans-boundary crimes related to environment.
On the last day, members participated in a field trip to Ol Karia Geo-thermal Power Plant where they to learnt best Green practices especially on Green Energy. Mr. Cyrus Karigithi, Ass. Manager Resource Development took members through the tour of the geothermal projects being undertaken by Kengen.
At the end of the forum, various deliberations on the way forward had been put in place that included that; an analytical summary capturing best practices and lessons learned on effective strategies for regulation of priority and emerging areas such as: extractive industry (including oil & gas); trans-boundary pollution (especially air and water pollution); and hazardous wastes and materials (e-waste, plastic waste, chemicals); provide an important opportunity for key decision makers to strengthen and/or develop new partnerships for future regional engagements and actionable suggestions and follow-up actions for the relevant stakeholders in countries represented at the forum.