National Environmental Management Authority Blog

Kenya adopts the ICZM Policy

The government of Kenya has put in place Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) policy to promote conservation and integrated management of coastal and marine environment. The policy was adopted by Parliament on 3rd December 2015 and is now operational.

Fig. 1 Mangroves in Funzi Island, Kenya. Besides serving as important breeding habitat for fish mangroves protect the shoreline from shoreline erosion by breaking waves. Protection of key habitats such as mangroves is one of the objectives of the policy (Photo:James Kamula, NEMA, Kenya)

It is a culmination of a highly consultative and participatory process that was led by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) over the last five years to prepare the policy. The ICZM Policy aims at providing a framework for sound management of the coastal zone and associated resources through inter-sectoral coordination and integration of environmental consideration into socio-economic planning and implementation at all levels.

Kenya is endowed with a variety of resources that support livelihoods and economic development in addition to maintaining a healthy and functioning of marine and coastal ecosystems. The resources include mangroves and other coastal forests, estuaries, coral reefs, marine species, and open sea marine resources among others.

These resources are however under threat from a variety of causes, which if not adequately addressed will in the long-term undermine the livelihoods of the local communities, impair economic activities supported by the coastal resources as well as result in biodiversity loss. Among the major threats facing the coastal and marine environment include pollution, over-exploitation, destructive fishing practices, uncontrolled and unplanned development, coastal erosion and climate change among others.

Although many institutions have over the years played important roles in managing the coastal area and uses, there has been no overall framework which fosters coordination and integration of actions and decisions that affect the resources by various players. The lack of a coordination framework and failure by the sectoral efforts to recognize the relationship and interconnectedness of the coastal environment have over the years resulted to poor planning, conflicting policies and duplication of efforts.

The ICZM Policy recognizes the inter-relationship and interconnectedness of the coastal environment, and that the myriads of threats facing the coastal zone require the attention of multi-sectoral partners collaborating in an integrated approach to identify and implement intervention to address the threats and promote sustainable development in the coastal area. It is rooted in the understanding that the coastal and marine environment is a limited spatial area and a distinctive system in which a range of environmental and socio-economic interest interconnect in a manner which requires a dedicated and integrated management approach.

Fig. 2: Seaweed farming in Shimoni, Kenya. Seaweed farming is being undertaken by the local community in the area as an alternative source of livelihood and also as a measure to reduce pressure on nearshore fisheries resources. The ICZM policy also seeks to promote programme that safeguard the environment while improving community livelihoods (PHOTO BY: JAMES KAMULA, NEMA, KENYA)

The policy making process was highly consultative and participatory involving stakeholders from the Government sector, NGOs, Private Sector, experts and community based organizations. With stewardship of the ICZM Steering Committee coordinated by NEMA, several stakeholder consultative meetings were held and inputs provided in the policy making process.

Prior to inception of the policy making process a State of the Coast (SOC) Report was prepared with a view to shading light on the state of the coastal and marine environment. The SOC report provided key information on issues that the policy seeks to address. Other documents such as State of Environment Reports for Kenya, reports generated under the UNEP WIO-Lab project and reports by various research institutions also provided crucial information in drafting of the policy.

Plans are underway to have the policy printed for dissemination. A launching event will be organized as soon as the policy is printed. Implementation of the policy is anticipated to lead to effective resource management and sustainable development in the coastal zone.


[By James Kamula – Senior Marine officer/ KCDP Technical coordinator]