The role of law in sustainable development


By Ruth Nzioka*

What do you see when you look at these pictures?They say a picture is worth a thousand words.This is quite true.When i look at these pictures,i see the present generation,the future generation and an unborn generation.All these generations depend on earth’s natural resources for survival.How can the present generation not deplete these resources for the future and unborn generation?

The answer is simple.SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.If needs are to be met on the sustainable basis the earth’s natural resource base must be conserved and enhanced.Environmental law has a major role to pay in ensuring that consumption is kept at sustainable levels and guarantee that present development needs are met while ensuring that future generations will be able to meet their own needs.

Pressure on resources increases when people lack alternatives.Environmental laws have the potential to widen people’s options for earning a sustainable livelihood,particularly for poor households.It has potential to curb over-exploitation of resources.This is with a combination of effective and innovative litigation.

Short-term unplanned improvements in productivity can create different forms of ecological stress such as the loss of genetic diversity in standing crops.Ecologically more benign alternatives can be adopted through environmental laws,as such laws would ensure future increases in productivity.Environmental law also plays a major role in ensuring sustainable energy consumption.It has also played a major role in prevention and reduction of air and water pollution.An article on sustainable development would not be complete without specific emphasis on the role of environmental impact assessment (EIA). This is the tool through which environmental law integrates environmental concerns into socio-economic and development planning.It studies the effects of a proposed action on the environment.It ensures that environmental resources are recognized early and protected through planning and decision-making.

It is imperative to note that the task of realizing sustainable development will obviously run beyond mere litigation.It involves the concerted efforts by the society to remedy past and present wrongs that have continued to degrade our environment.This combined with environmental litigation will be an effective tool in achieving sustainable development.

*Ruth Nzioka is a Legal Researcher at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG). The views expressed here are purely her own and do not necessarily reflect ILEG’s position.


Climate change in Africa


By Ruth Nzioka*

Climate change is possibly the most significant environmental challenge of our time and it poses serious threats to sustainable development globally. In Africa, dangerous weather patterns especially unpredictable droughts and floods are posing a
great challenge to national development planning and socio-economic well-being. In Kenya, climate change presents a number of economic, social and environmental challenges that should be addressed to avoid slowing development gains. Some of these challenges include increases in the incidences of waterborne and water related diseases, crop destruction by floods, escalation of pests as well as crop and livestock diseases. Other impacts include water scarcity which may foment natural resources conflict, food insecurity and malnutrition. Unless remedial measures are taken, this is likely to adversely affect the attainment of Vision 2030 because the key sectors of Kenya’s economy, including agriculture, horticulture, hydro-energy generation, transport, and tourism are extremely climate-sensitive.

The country has made some impressive progress on climate change response to date. This includes: the constitutional recognition of sustainable development, public participation in environmental decision making, and socio-economic rights; the intensification of forest rehabilitation and reforestation through a set level of mandatory forest cover; the establishment of climate change desks or offices in virtually all environmental government lead agencies; and the adoption of the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) and National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).

Despite the above progress, Kenya lacks a comprehensive and overarching legislative and institutional framework that can facilitate the necessary direction, guidance, coordination and high-level political buy-in to mainstream climate change and enable the effective implementation of actions to address climate change. The government is not well-equipped to keep pace with the emerging climate change issues from international climate change negotiations including transitioning to green economies. In addition, there are knowledge and information gaps at local levels, and challenges on mainstreaming climate change into local development planning in the face of ongoing political and economic reforms taking place. There is also a dearth of documentation of national, regional and international policy process, lessons and best practices that would help build a body of practice for mainstreaming climate change into environmental policy for African countries.

Responding to the above challenges requires multi-faceted and multi-pronged strategies. Those strategies traverse legal and policy responses and frameworks, financial and economic responses including availing resources for climate change action, political action, institutional strengthening and response and social strategies.  It also requires research and technological innovation and strategies

Our programme focuses on climate change governance at local, national and international levels through research, capacity building, policy formulation, legislation and implementation of projects.

*Ruth Nzioka is a Legal Researcher at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG). The views expressed here are a summary of ILEG’S  Publication CLIMATE CHANGE:A COMMON CHALLENGE by ILEG’s Executive diretor Benson Ochieng and Maurice Makoloo.

Hello world!

Hello world!We are an independent, non-profit public interest law and policy organization focused on promoting sustainable development. We work with local communities, governments, the private sector and civil society organizations (CSOs) to ensure fair, balanced and equitable development policy choices to improve peoples’ lives and protect the environment. Our work seeks to transform the way governments make decisions that affect the environment and natural resources on which livelihoods depend. We are dedicated to finding practical options that shift the ways governments make and implement laws and policies, the way businesses operate, and the way people act in relation to the environment.

We were established in the year 2002 and work mainly in Kenya and the wider Eastern Africa region. But our work has significant continental and global reach and influence. We work with our partners in Kenya, Africa and internationally to shape sustainable development decisions for the benefit of present and future generations.

Our work is organized around four interrelated programmes,which are:                                                                      

 Programme 1   Programme 2
Environment and Social Justice

Seeks to secure the natural assets

of local and vulnerable communities

by supporting and promoting due

process rights.

Land and Natural Resources

Seeks to secure the natural assets

of local and vulnerable communities by supporting and promoting due process rights.

Programme 3 Programme 4
Climate Change

Seeks to secure the natural assets

of local and vulnerable communities

by supporting and promoting due

process rights.

Science & Technology

Promotes innovation and safe, responsible and equitable deployment science and technology.