Historically, poor stakeholder engagement has been attributed to the reduction of forest cover in Kenya. A clear, participatory and vibrant stakeholder engagement framework hinged on a rights-based approach helps mitigate conflict and unrests through improved relationships, increased understanding, trust and confidence among stakeholders. It is therefore that the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities through the National REDD+ Coordination Office and in collaboration with the UN REDD Programme has taken lead in the development of stakeholder engagement guidelines for the Country.
This will be the first Stakeholder Engagement guidelines in Africa to be developed by the Government and an Indigenous group. The guidelines will endeavor to provide a robust multi stakeholder inter-agency and cross-sectoral framework for development of the forestry sector in the country which also recognizes the rights and contribution of indigenous people and local communities’ and their dependence on forests.
To see the success of this process the National REDD+ Coordination Office recently held a validation workshop to engage various stakeholders drawn from the National and County Government, indigenous people groups, UN REDD programme among others. To open the workshop was the National REDD+ Coordinator and Focal Point Alfred Gichu who reiterated the Government’s commitment to engaging stakeholders in the REDD+ process. He further noted that stakeholder identification was broader and went beyond the forestry sector.
A number of key recommendations were flagged during the workshop including the need to have a clear stakeholder identification and validation, the need to have different tools for different stakeholders, specification of the target for the toolkit, ensuring the guidelines are properly anchored in existing laws/treaties and supported by other processes, clarifying and providing simplified information for enhanced understanding of REDD, generating simplified handbooks interpreted in different languages, creation of awareness on the tool kit using radio programs for enhanced participation, demonstrating realistic benefits delivered by REDD+.
This initiative by the Government is informed by a desire amongst state parties to move beyond short term based rules and requirements to stakeholder engagement as a means of describing broader, more inclusive, and continuous processes between project proponents and those potentially impacted throughout the entire life of a project in a dynamic environment. The initiative is also in tandem with the recognition that livelihoods of diverse stakeholders are directly or indirectly dependent on forests and forestry resources, hence the need to account for their needs/rights.