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New climate change act set to accelerate local climate action and finance in Nakuru County, Kenya

The signing of the Nakuru County Climate Change Act, 2020 establishes the County Climate Change Fund, a pioneering financial mechanism that makes addressing climate change a legal requirement.

This article was originally published on the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa newsfeed. Read it in here.

In May 2020, Governor Lee Kinyanjui assented to the Nakuru County Climate Change Bill 2020 hence becoming the Nakuru County Climate Change Act, 2020. Governor Kinyanjui also assented to the Nakuru County Water and Sanitation Services Bill, 2020 and the Nakuru County Solid Waste Management Bill, 2020 thereby becoming the Nakuru County Water & Sanitation Act, 2020 and Nakuru County Solid Waste Management Act, 2020.

Assenting to these three pieces of legislation is the first step in creating the legal frameworks and mechanisms required to prioritise robust climate action, and ensuring that County funds are set aside for climate change adaptation and mitigation, effective waste management and enhanced sustainable water and sanitation practices within the County.

The move is building local momentum in addressing climate change, supporting ongoing efforts to enhance the County’s resilience. It forms an important benchmark for CoM SSA cities taking ambitious climate action.

The Nakuru County Climate Change Bill, 2020 was sponsored at the County Assembly by Hon. Joseph Kamano, MCA Maela and Chairman of the Sectoral Committee in Water, Sanitation, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources at the County Assembly.

 

What this means for Nakuru County’s climate efforts

The Nakuru County Climate Change Act, 2020 will put in place the framework and mechanisms to bring together all relevant stakeholders to respond collectively and effectively to climate change. Notably, the Climate Change Bill establishes a Climate Change Fund, a dedicated budget for climate-related activities across the departments of the County, meaning that addressing climate change will be in the legal mandate of each County department henceforth.

Climate change is a cross-sectoral and cross-governmental challenge, making it crucial that officials from different departments and levels of government come together to collectively plan, and assign responsibilities to effectively build resilience, not only in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also in adapting to the climate change impacts the County is already experiencing.

“This was a milestone and a game changer for the water, sanitation and environment sector. We are certain that it will support partnerships with financiers and development partners to accelerate our work on climate change matters,” said Eng. Festus Ng’eno, Water, Sanitation and Environment County Minister during the assenting of the Bills.

It is not often that climate change is specifically mandated at the local government level and, in doing so, Nakuru County is legally committing to action that will create a future-ready, climate-proof city, setting a notable example for cities across the region.

 

Nakuru County officials are already taking climate action

Whilst the Nakuru County Climate Change Act, 2020 signifies the government’s official response to climate impacts, the county officials have been taking climate planning and action seriously for years. The County has developed the Nakuru County Climate Change Action Plan, and in early 2020 Nakuru County also joined the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA). Through CoM SSA, GIZ and ICLEI Africa are working with county officials to develop a comprehensive Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP). The SEACAP complements existing efforts and will be used to update the existing county plans with sound scientific evidence and a participatory approach. Once completed, the SEACAP will pave Nakuru’s way for an integrated action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve responses to climate impacts and enhance residents’ access to sustainable energy.

Nakuru County’s work on climate change through CoM SSA is directly aligned with the intention of the Bill and Act. A crucial first step in creating a SEACAP is bringing the relevant stakeholders together to assess the current reality in terms of climate mitigation, adaptation, and energy access; and plan a way forward. In Nakuru, this status quo analysis will reveal the County’s current emissions profile, County’s current climate hazard risk as well as the sectors and population groups most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the County’s current access to energy profile.

Following this, officials will set targets for where they want the county’s mitigation, adaptation and access to energy efforts to be in the next five and ten years and identify actions to reach these targets. This will culminate in the identification and prioritisation of actions the County can take; thereby supporting to bring the legal provisions and budget allocation of the Climate Change Bill and Act into concrete action on the ground. The SEACAP development process is reaching important milestones in all four CoM SSA signatory cities where GIZ and ICLEI Africa are supporting climate and energy planning. Once completed, the SEACAP will be a rich document providing insightful baselines, outlining targets and, most importantly, highlighting the integrated actions needed to create resilient, healthy cities where citizens have access to sustainable energy.

Nakuru’s move to establish a legal mandate and enabling environment for climate actions at the subnational level sets an inspiring precedent for CoM SSA cities across the region in completing, financing and implementing climate action plans.