Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Regional Development Authorities Professor Judi Wakhungu, Members of the Conservation Alliance of Kenya, Distinguished Guests.
Hamjambo! Habari za asubuhi?
Good Morning. It’s wonderful to join you this morning officially launching the Conservation Alliance of Kenya.
Just over a year ago, the conservation community met in Naivasha for the first-ever NGO conference focused on wildlife. At that meeting, everyone came to the table to discuss on how civil society could strengthen its ability to advance a strong conservation agenda and engage more effectively with the government and public. The result was the Conservation Alliance of Kenya.
The idea behind the Alliance is to help the conservation community speak with a strong, unified voice on critical challenges. The Alliance is intended to build partnerships, and improve participation and transparency around wildlife issues while providing technical advice and support for conservation policies and programs. It is intended to help the conservation community speak with a clear, loud voice about the importance of protecting and conserving Kenya’s extraordinary wildlife heritage.
In just one year, the Conservation Alliance has made progress. Since the Naivasha conference, I understand that many conservation NGOs have become members of the Alliance. President Kenyatta has expressed his support for the Alliance in advancing the dialogue around wildlife conservation and management of Kenya’s remarkable natural resources. And, today – together – we celebrate the official launch of the Conservation Alliance of Kenya. Hongera.
As we do so, it is important to look ahead too. The Alliance has much potential and possibility. But you have only taken a first step. A formal, widely-agreed governance structure is essential if the Alliance is to be an enduring, effective institution. There must be regular meetings, as well as opportunities for all members to collaborate and voice their concerns. Alliance members must have the opportunity to actively participate in these discussions. Building a strong, inclusive Conservation Alliance of Kenya will help achieve the conservation goals that we all share.
As you work to do so, the US government is committed to working with and supporting you. During President Obama’s historic visit to Kenya last July, and again during Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s visit in January, we made clear the importance to the United States of wildlife conservation and combating wildlife crime. And, we put our money where our mouth is. We have committed $50 million, 5 billion KSH, to conservation efforts in Kenya in the medium term.
With our funding, we assist in biodiversity conservation, community conservancies, wildlife research, anti-poaching programs, and enhancing investigative and law enforcement capabilities. In addition, this year, USAID, as Chair of the Development Partner Wildlife Issues Group, is leading the effort to coordinate international donor efforts and interventions around wildlife protection.
As we launch the Alliance this morning, we are all looking forward to the upcoming Ivory and Rhino Horn Burn and Giants Summit on April 29 – 30. These will be extraordinary events and I commend President Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary Wakhungu for their vision, passion and commitment to make them happen. The Burn and the Summit will demonstrate to the world that Kenyans intend to lead the world on conservation.
The United States strongly backs the Burn and the Summit. So, I’m pleased to announce today that, in support of these two landmark events, the US Embassy will join with other partners, including the Ministry, KWS, NGOs, media houses and others in hosting a three-hour “Prelude to the Burn” on Saturday, April 23. At that event, which we hope will be live worldwide, we will discuss with experts and citizen activists why elephants and rhinos matter, the threats to them and what needs to be done to protect them. Most importantly, we will ask everyone to make commitments, big and small, to help win this fight. The Prelude to the Burn will call for a commitment to action to save the elephants and rhinos. I hope all of you will join us.
Again, congratulations to everyone who worked to found the new Alliance. I look forward to working with you. And, thank you to everyone here today, particularly
Cabinet Secretary Wakhungu, for their strong, steadfast support and leadership in the protection of wild Kenya. Together, we can and will protect our extraordinary, iconic heritage for Kenyans, for Americans and for everyone. Across the savannahs of Africa, the elephants trumpet their thanks and the rhinos point their horns skyward in salute.
Pamoja Tusonge Mbele. Asante Sana.
Photo:Kamweti Mutu / CAK