On behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, it is my great pleasure to join you all today for the official launch the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK).
The journey towards the establishment of the CAK is one that I have followed from the beginning, since the initial seed of an idea was planted at the stakeholders’ breakfast meeting in November 2013. The first conference of conservation NGOs in January 2015 provided much needed momentum, and it has been my privilege to remain in close contact with the interim committee of CAK throughout this process. I have continued to be impressed by the passion and great commitment demonstrated by this team.
Wildlife and the spaces it inhabits, from our verdant mountain forests to open rangelands, wetlands, rivers, lakes, the coastal zone, semi-arid and arid areas together form a crucial pillar of our economy. This pillar is as important as any other to our national development, and yet it is confronted by immense challenges. Environmental issues, generally, and conservation issues, specifically, cut across almost all spheres of our daily lives. As such, we find ourselves at great crossroads in our country’s conservation history:
On one hand, there is a very real and urgent need to fast-track long overdue infrastructure and other important national development projects to improve our productivity and make the most of our natural resources. The needs of our growing human population are exerting heavy pressure on available land and resources, including traditional wildlife habitats;
On the other hand, the prudent conservation of our wildlife demands that we aggressively protect and even enhance these habitats. This will ensure that they continue to contribute to our economic prosperity, environmental health and to preserve our heritage.
The challenge of achieving a balance between the various pillars is becoming increasingly evident in the unfortunate human/wildlife conflicts playing out in the public domain. This equally applies to the conflicts arising from the implementation of major infrastructure, agricultural and other development projects within or adjacent to key wildlife habitats. How these conflicts are presented, discussed and addressed, points to the need for a more constructive model of engagement between stakeholders in each of the affected sectors.
At present, much negative energy is expended in reaction to emerging issues that impact on conservation. Within the appropriate framework, the affected sectors can instead proactively work together to achieve synergy. Our national development processes must integrate the needs of conservation at the planning stage. In turn, the conservation fraternity should avail its vast pool of skills, knowledge and resources to support such collaborative efforts. This is a PARTNERSHIP
APPROACH, built on mutual respect, which recognizes the value of each stakeholder. It will be the winning formula going forward.
The establishment of the CAK as an umbrella body for conservation NGOs provides the essential link between the conservation actors in the private sector and those of us in the public sector tasked with driving the nation’s development agenda. It confers us with the opportunity to work smarter, together, and to get things right. I call upon the CAK to seize this opportunity to constructively engage, internally within its membership, and externally with all relevant arms of the public sector to add value to the national development agenda.
I can confirm that His Excellency the President is well briefed on the CAK’s progress, and that he is highly supportive. I will facilitate, soonest, the inaugural Round Table forum between His Excellency and the CAK to discuss priority conservation issues of concern that the Government needs to address.
The National Wildlife Strategy and the Wildlife Status Report are among the key deliverables expected from my Ministry. My Ministry will soon formally call upon the CAK to harness and coordinate the necessary resources, vast expertise and accumulated information from amongst its membership to support this process. This will ensure that the documents accurately reflect the state of Kenya’s wildlife and our collective vision for its management. It will be the first practical test of our ability to collaborate within the enhanced engagement model.
On behalf of my Ministry, I confirm that we will work closely with CAK towards achieving our sharedgoals, in the spirit of partnership. You can count on my Ministry’s full support and goodwill, and I look forward to your great success.
With these few remarks, I now take this opportunity to formally launch the Conservation Alliance of Kenya.
Photo: Kamweti /CAK