The ban on the use of plastic bags in Kenya, while seen as an isolated activity, is part of the larger plan to implement the green and blue economies that is being pursued by the government in order to escalate the achievement of sustainable development as required under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ban effected on August 28, 2017 is being implemented within the country’s effort to actualise the Climate Change Act 2016, which together with the Constitution provides for Kenyans to live in a healthy environment.
It’s part of the country’s path to the realisation of SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production and promotes the principles of reduce, re-use and recycle and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, to which she is a signatory.
Outside the protests by the manufacturers and employees in the sector, many policy documents seem to promote the ban and would have prepared stakeholders over the years, as the country continues a development agenda that respects both local and international obligations.
Plastics are a menace to the environment; they are serious health risks to land and living things, as well as being lethal to the lives of oceanic animals and plants.
The ban is not ad-hoc as it appears; the blame goes to the responsible government agency for poor public communication and a stakeholder awareness strategy as its well within the larger circular economy principle, which is part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.
Kenya being a signatory to the SDGs, has a responsibility to promote natural resource utilization that ensure that manufacturers only make the kind of products including plastics that can be recycled and re-used. That is why there is an exemption on the some types of plastics.
With the passing of both the climate change Act 2106 and the Fisheries Management and Development Act 2015 and the subsequent policy frameworks, Kenya was on the pathway not only to banning environmentally unfriendly substances including plastics, but has made a statement on her commitment to pursue an economic growth and development model that ensures that natural assets are exploited while at the same time continuing to provide the resources and environmental services on which her citizens well-being relies.
Additionally, in Kenya, there are a number of laws and bills enacted to promote green growth economy among them the Environmental Management and Coordination (Amendment) Act 2015, Vision 2030, Energy Act 2012 and Green Economic Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) 2016-2030.
Towards this end, the country will be reporting globally on the progress it has made towards achieving the green economy as a member of the Global Green Growth Forum partnership countries; China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Mexico, Kenya, Qatar and Korea during the Copenhagen summit to be held at the personal invitation of the Prime Minister of Denmark in April 2018.
Already, the country through the Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust and with the support of the Royal Danish Embassy in Kenya have a planned a national conference in October to showcase technologies as well as provide platform for dialogue and discussions on how far
The country’s Green Growth Strategy recognises investing in the following building blocks can increase profits for producers, save money for consumers, and improve the environment: economic efficiency, low carbon development, investing in natural capital and ecosystem services and efficient markets that internalize all social and environmental costs.
Other building blocks that are equally important include and are part of the strategy are, transport, and water infrastructure systems; affordable and environmentally friendly housing; equitable access and governance of natural resources; environmentally aware citizens and green consumers; and new measurements of well-being and sustainable economic welfare that are publicly available.
Recently, the CS for Environment Prof Judi Wakhungu made revelations that Kenya is making efforts to enhance public/private partnerships to reinforce Kenya’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC’s) towards reducing the Green House Emissions (GHE) and contribute to the green growth of the economy through the ministries of Energy, Environment and Industrialization to accelerate transformation into a green economy.
Similarly, through assenting to the Fisheries Management and Development Act 2015 President Uhuru Kenyatta marked the country’s journey to tap into the massive marine resources that have been under-utilised over the years.
A task force led by the Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Samson Mwathethe is already working on a roadmap on taping The blue economy.
(Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya Programmes Manager and a trained environmental journalist)