Tobiko: Government to maintain a collaborative approach for environmental conservation

The Government will maintain a multi sectoral collaborative approach to its environmental conservation agenda, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has said.

As part of the approach, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry will be strengthening relations with various environmental conservation players to facilitate the operational execution of key programs touching on climate change, solid waste management and afforestation among others.

Speaking at The Green Belt Movement Head offices when he paid a courtesy call to pay tribute to the late Nobel Laureate, Wangari Mathai, Tobiko said the ministry will maintain close links with Devolved Government units currently charged with the responsibility of waste management and non-governmental players running advocacy and capacity building initiatives.

Flanked by The Green Belt Movement Chairperson, Mrs. Marion Kamau, former Chairperson, Ms Wanjira Maathai among other officials, Tobiko said that the government is placing a high premium on environmental conservation and management.

“As I pay homage to the late Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, I wish to reiterate my commitment to advance the Environmental conservation agenda as a cross cutting Big 4 national development enabler,” Tobiko said, adding that, “We shall relentlessly maintain our focus on environmental conservation matters including a total ban for plastic carry bags and action against unscrupulous persons engaging in environmental degradation acts such as illegal logging.”

To provide a solid intervention to the prevailing environmental challenges, Tobiko also confirmed that the ministry has moved to appoint a multi sectoral task force comprising of public and non-governmental environmental sector players to assess sustainable environmental conservation models.

The Task force which will comprise Agencies under the Ministry and other players including the Green Belt Movement will undertake an in-depth technical inquiry in the scale of destruction to local water towers and forests among other environmental fronts.

While serving at the Public Law Institute alongside the late Dr Oki Ooko Ombaka, and under the instruction of The Green Belt Movement, Mr. Tobiko was part of the Legal Counsel team that fought tooth and nail against the proposed construction of a 62 storey skyscraper at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) was founded by Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977 under the auspices of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing.

Shortly after beginning this work, Professor Maathai saw that behind challenge including environmental degradation, deforestation, food shortage and insecurity, was deeper issues of disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and a loss of the traditional values that had previously enabled communities to protect their environment, work together for mutual benefit, and to do both selflessly and honestly. It is on the basis of this work by the GBM, and for her own related work, that the founder of Green Belt Movement, the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace” and promoting women’s empowerment.

Since it was started over 51 million trees have been planted and over 500,000 households have been trained in understanding their rights to public lands and civic responsibilities as well as forestry, food processing, bee- keeping that help them earn income to stop the downward spiral of poverty and environmental degradation. GBM has an infrastructure of over 4900 conservation groups that are distributed across the five major water towers and has impacted over 8.5 million people in 117 critical watersheds within the key water towers.

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