Tuesday, 09 July 2024 08:20

ADVANCING CLIMATE JUSTICE

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In a significant joint retreat between the Council of Governors (CoG) and the Environment and lands Court held in Ukunda, Kwale County, Kenya, key stakeholders gathered to canvass the pressing issues of climate justice, carbon markets, environmental governance, and land use planning. The event, marked by insightful speeches and discussions, underscored the pivotal role of the judiciary in shaping sustainable development and advancing climate resilience in Kenya. Key speakers included H.E. Dr. Wilber Ottichilo, H.E. Prof. Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, Supreme Court Judge Dr. Smokin Wanjala, CoG CEO Mary Mwiti and PS Dr. Eng. Festus Ng'eno, who collectively highlighted the urgent need for collaborative efforts in addressing climate change and its multifaceted impacts.
During his address, H.E Dr. Wilber Ottichilo, Chairperson of the Environment and Climate Change Committee of the CoG, emphasized the judiciary's pivotal role in supporting climate justice. He called upon judges to expedite the handling of environment-related cases, promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and provide legal clarity on emerging environmental challenges. Governor Ottichilo underscored the importance of understanding the Climate Change (Carbon Markets) Regulations, 2024, which delineate the roles of different stakeholders, including county governments and the private sector. By ensuring that proceeds from carbon trading are channeled back into meaningful resilience interventions, he highlighted the potential for carbon markets to drive sustainable development.
H.E. Prof. Anyang' Nyong'o, Chair of the Lands and Physical Planning Committee, on the other hand highlighted the complexity of land management and use in the face of rapid urbanization, population growth, and environmental challenges. He emphasized the vital role of ELC judges in interpreting laws, adjudicating disputes, and guiding decisions that directly impact Kenya's landscapes and communities. Governor Nyong'o advocated for the use of GIS in judicial decision-making, enabling evidence-based decisions and promoting transparency and accountability in land transactions. By leveraging GIS, the judiciary can assess the environmental and social implications of proposed land developments, ensuring just and effective judicial outcomes.
Supreme Court Judge, Smokin Wanjala, emphasized the need for the Council of Governors and the Judiciary to ensure regular engagement on topical issues to share experiences.
“I have always advocated for continuous education of our judges. Continuous education of judges and magistrates is no longer a choice but it is a constitutional imperative which says a good judge must be a learning judge. This will enable the Courts come up with great jurisprudence,” said Judge Smokin Wanjala
The CoG CEO Mary Mwiti, on her part emphasized the critical intersection of judicial decisions and carbon markets in the context of climate justice. She stressed the importance of equipping Environment and Land Court (ELC) judges with the necessary knowledge to adjudicate legal disputes related to carbon markets and environmental issues.
The joint retreat in Diani underscored the critical role of the judiciary in advancing climate justice and sustainable development in Kenya. By equipping ELC judges with the necessary knowledge and tools, fostering partnerships, and promoting robust legal frameworks, the judiciary can significantly contribute to climate resilience and environmental governance. As Kenya navigates the complexities of climate change and land management, the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, including the judiciary, will be instrumental in ensuring a prosperous and resilient future for all.

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