Teaching a toddler about clouds

The sky is fascinating
Looking at it, there are many colours
The blue colour dominates
The blue colour covers a long distance
Clouds appear like smoke in the sky
Clouds float in the sky
Clouds are blown by wind from place to place.
Clouds are formed in the sky from water vapour
Clouds are made of small drops of water
Clouds are white or dark in colour
Clouds with a lot of water are dark in colour
Clouds with little water are white in colour
When the sky is full of clouds, the weather is cloudy
Dark clouds sometimes give us rain

Dark clouds become heavy with water vapour
Dark, heavy clouds form drops of water which falls on the ground as rain


Suggested activities to mark an environmental day

The World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated every 5th June. The decision to mark WED was arrived at during the 1st World Conference on Environment held in 1972 in Stockholm Sweden. Hence the day is a very important occasion marking the birthday of environmental movement globally.

Since there are many environmental challenges facing humanity, it is possible to designate any day to be an environment day. People could be mobilized to come together and undertake activities to address the environmental challenge affecting them.

Most people do not know what to do to mark an environmental day. Here below is a list of Fifty suggested innovative activities to mark an Environment Day at institutional and individual level.

1. Participate in tree planting, clean-ups within the institution or at community level
2. Engaging the media to publicize the greening activities in learning institution
3. Saturate institutional websites with reports of ongoing green interventions
4. Organize outdoor fun / learning activities
5. Greening/integrating environmental aspects in workplans and teaching approaches
6. Organize drama and art activities on environmental issues
7. Initiate or upscale waste recycling activities
8. Organize competitions such as sports, art etc with environmental theme
9. Invite knowledgeable people to give a talk on an environmental issue and what could be done
10. Develop and disseminate awareness materials customized on an environmental theme
11. Teachers to read a speech during assembly from the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources on World Environment Day
12. Arrange a speech competition among best debaters of the school on an environmental theme
13. Organize a poster competition and give awards to makers of best posters
14. Organize a skit competition and give award to best performers
15. Students to write essays on significance of an environmental issue
16. Mount posters at eye-catching spots telling people about an environmental issue
17. Develop short green slogans and publicize them
18. Organize a peaceful march within the locality for the environment and display placards
19. Avoid use of polythene bags and polluting the environment
20. Switch off gadgets that use electricity if not needed
21. Write to Member of County Assembly, members of parliament, government and newspapers the local environmental issues that need to be addressed
22. Assess areas where environmental degradation has taken place and raise awareness on what should be done
23. Organize an exhibition for different people and institutions to display their green practices
24. Mobilize communities to plant trees in farms
25. Avoid activities leading to environmental degradation
26. Take measures to conserve soil
27. Promote water and energy conservation
28. Promote awareness on smart agriculture
29. Promote awareness and adoption of better environmental practices
30. Give green champions/worker awards to members of staff who demonstrate greatest commitment to environmental conservation
31. Study the latest institutional environmental, health and safety audit progress report and publicise it among staff and in the media to demonstrate commitment to green economy. This will motivate other industrial players to follow suit.
32. Write on social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter and that of your friends about your thoughts and actions regarding the World Environment Day
33. Design and develop a WED themed customized poster and post it on your social page timeline
34. Search the internet for environmental information related to the WED theme and share it within your social platforms
35. Search for green groups on the internet and share your environmental concerns with them
36. Participate in environmental discussions initiated on social media by other environmentalists
37. Conduct a competition on social media on the WED theme to raise environmental awareness
38. Press the “Like button” on all shares done by others on social media to encourage sharing more environmental awareness messages
39. Organize a panel discussion of imminent environmentalists to discuss a pertinent environmental issue
40. Organize an awareness caravan of vehicles branded with environmental messages and with enhanced sound equipment to reach many people with environmental awareness.
41. Visit the UN Environment website page on World Environment Day to get more updates
42. Religious institutions such as churches, mosques and temples to include environmental messages in their sermons to their congregation.
43. Buy, promote and use food items grown or sourced using environmentally friendly practices
44. Develop appropriate documentaries and avail them online or broadcast them on TV or Radio
45. Visit the members of the community, explain the local environmental challenges and spend time with them improving the environment
46. Engage all your institutional stakeholders to dispose waste appropriately
47. Organize a beauty contest to promote environmental consciousness
48. Organize and publicize for participation in a non-motorized week/day for your institution and local community whereby people walk/cycle instead of driving. They could also use public instead of individual transport
49. Buy, promote and use green products that save energy, are recyclable, do not emit greenhouse gases, are not hazardous
50. Organize an environmental clinic/open day when experts assemble at a place, interact with members of the community and respond to any green economy related questions

Tree seedlings grow better in biodegradable bags

Kenyans are still coming to terms with the recent ban on production, importation and use of polythene bags that was imposed by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources on 28th February 2017. The ban is due to be effective after 6 months, that is on 28th August 2017. One of the sectors known to use many polythene bags is the growing of tree seedlings. Most tree nurseries nurture seedlings in polythene bags.

Owners of the seed beds have always argued that polythene bags have many advantages which include being cheap, readily available, easy to use and hold the water inside the bag reducing the need for regular watering, and hence reduction in water bills. The owners of tree nurseries however are not keen to mention the negative impact of the polythene bags such as visual pollution, littering, clogging of water drainage systems, death of livestock and wildlife through feeding on the bags, air pollution when bags are burnt and the health effects of carcinogenic furans and dioxins breathed in with the smoke.

Now that the ban is in place, it is crucial that we reflect on alternatives to the polythene bags for growing the tree seedlings. Alternatives in this case include bags made from natural fibres such as cotton, sisal, grasses, papyrus among others. Fortunately the skill to make the biodegradable bags is resident within communities. Hence with the enforcement of the polythene ban, it is expected that people in rural areas especially women will be contracted to supply these alternative bags. These bags have not been popular for this purpose because of the extensive preference of the polythene bag.

Biodegradable bags made through an industrial process are also expected to come in handy in tree nurseries. These bags are made of petrochemicals, though manufactured differently as compared to the normal polythene bags. Biodegradable bags are made to break down quickly in the presence of air and sunshine hence are labeled as oxydegradable or photodegradable respectively.

Other industrial biodegradable polythene bags could also be made from organic, renewable sources, such as vegetable oils, corn, and grains. Some biodegradable plastics/polythene bags are compostable and can decompose to create humus releasing valuable nutrients to the soil. There are many factories that manufacture biodegradable bags, and it is highly likely that there are shiploads of these bags in high seas heading to Kenya to service the gap created by the polythene bag ban.

A study done on biodegradable bags(see this link ) showed that they present more survival advantages to tree seedlings as compared to the polythene bag. It was noted that seedlings grown in biodegradable bags do not suffer the shock and disturbance experienced during the translocation of the seedlings. You are familiar with the process of planting a tree seedling that was grown in a polythene bag. The seedling must be removed from the polythene bag. During this process, in some cases, the soil gets disturbed, loosens and scatters and expose the roots. The seedling hence suffers some shock and this interferes with the rate of establishment of the seedling within the new environment. This is not the case with a seedling grown in biodegradable bags. There is no need to remove the seedling from the bag, just insert it into the prepared hole and bury the roots in the soil. After some time, the bag will wither and rot and the roots will establish themselves within the new environment.

Planting tree seedlings nurtured in polythene bags has been a challenge to many people. I remember one incident I visited a school in Kisumu County to monitor seedlings survival in a project sponsored by the Ministry of Environment dubbed “Green Schools Project”. One headteacher showed us a site they had planted over 500 tree seedlings but only about 20 were still surviving. When we enquired why the survival rate for the seedlings was very low, he responded that the school made a mistake of not removing the polythene bags when the seedlings were being replanted. Hence they planted the tree seedlings while still inside the polythene bag. The roots of these seedlings could not reach water and nutrients outside the bag and the trees were starved to death. As an educator, I was baffled since I had assumed that tree planting was an easy task. If an activity supervised by qualified teachers could accommodate such a mistake, what about the general public who are not highly educated?

It is therefore evident that the elimination of polythene bags would lead to enhanced survival of tree seedlings as well as reduced environmental pollution. The biodegradable bags bring forth numerous benefits and will contribute to reduction of wastage of our precious tree seedlings. This is a welcome gesture since the country is determined to increase her tree cover to 10% as prescribed in the Kenya Constitution 2010. Those dealing with tree nurseries should hence hurry up to embrace the alternative bags as the effective date for the ban is quickly approaching. All efforts should be made to prioritize locally made alternative bags as a way of supporting employment opportunities for the local people.


Muriuki J.K et al (2014) Testing Biodegradable Seedling Containers as an Alternative for Polythene Tubes in Tropical Small-Scale Tree Nurseries Small-scale Forestry: Volume 13, Issue 2 (2014), Page 127-142.

Polythene bags degrade innovation and culture

For those of us who grew in the village, visiting another home required planning. One needed an agenda to be tackled especially if its a home you don’t visit regularly. Hence there was sufficient reason for a visit. Not that people never used to interact, but a visitor was taken seriously. If one just wanted to interact, you could talk to each other over the fence or meet along the footpaths. Or even at the market place, local shopping centres or the watering point. But visit to homes was considered very honorable.

It was notable that home visits were also accompanied with exchange of gifts. A bottle of milk, a kilo of sugar, a packet of flour, sweet potatoes, cassava, arrowroots and maize cobs are among the items that were carried to the home to be visited. Normally these items were carried by women. The container used was normally a woven basket popularly known as ‘kiondo’.

In African culture, when you visit a home, generosity is extended, regardless of the economic status of the family visited. There was food and drink for visitors. This enabled community members to interact and bond more closely. The presentation of the gift was symbolic of the respect given to the home being visited and the planning done prior to the visit.

The end of the visit was characterized with more exchange of gifts. It was the turn of the home visited to return the ‘kiondo’ with something inside. One cannot return the ‘kiondo’ without a gift. The ‘kiondo’ was only used to carry the gift and is not given away to the home being visited. The person visited took the ‘kiondo’, emptied the contents, and filled it with different types of gifts in return. This was the fun of African culture.

What happened with the coming of the polythene bags? Normally, polythene bags are single use containers. The bag will carry the gift and since everybody knows its cheap, its normally retained with the gift. When the gift is unwrapped, the paper will be discarded away since it could even have gotten torn. In addition, nobody attaches a lot of value to the polythene bag, unlike the ‘kiondo’ which had to be returned to the owner.

Those who visit carrying gifts in polythene bags face a challenge of not committing the person visited to reciprocate with a gift. Some people give excuses that they have no containers to put the gift for the visitor. Culturally, the polythene bag is not considered as a suitable container that can compel for gift reciprocation.

Those young people who have grown during the era of polythene bags have missed this rich cultural heritage. They are used to one way traffic in gift exchange. Polythene bags denies people the opportunity to propagate this culture of gifts giving and reciprocating.

With the banning of the polythene bags in Kenya, it is expected that this rich cultural heritage will be revived. There will be more exchange of gifts, more interaction and bonding among communities. In addition, there will be reduced pollution to the natural environment.

Sandwich in cloth wrapper is fancier than in polythene bag

Kenya has banned use of polythene carrier bags. It is important to note that the carrier bags are of different sizes and their uses vary. For instance, most of us carry sandwiches for breakfast or lunch. normally, the easy way to carry the sandwich is by use of a polythene bag, normally the flimsies.

Unfortunately, most of us harbour littering values. The moment one is done with the sandwich, there is no care where the polythene bag ends. Its thrown anywhere, after all the County Government cleaners will clear that mess. Imagine in a school with 1000 students, how many polythene bags are thrown to the environment? And for a county like Nairobi with over 500 schools, this waste could be overwhelming.

From 28th August 2017, the polythene carrier bags and wrappers will be no more. How will you carry your sandwich hygienically?

The sandwich cloth wrapper is an ideal alternative to the polythene bag. It is made of cloth that is a readily available material and is reusable. The wrapper comes in different shapes and sizes. Surprisingly it can serve as a food mat when spread and as a food wrapper when folded.

The polythene bags manufacturers have complained of loss of jobs when the recently published polythene bags ban is implemented. But we need to appreciate that a new economic front is being opened up to innovatively replace the polythene bag. Making of the sandwich wrap can employ equally many people as the polythene carrier bags sector. This comes with new innovative designs that will attract new skills from Kenyans.

Surely, why should we hinder eco-friendly innovations from Kenyans that also rid our country of the polythene bags menace? Imagine the many colors and designs of sandwich wrappers that will hit the Kenyan market when the ban is implemented. I am very anxious to see these innovations and the thousands of new jobs that will be created.

Music for the environment


Music has been with us since time immemorial. Indeed, music is regarded as food for the soul. Both elderly and young people are actively involved in Music development and performance. Most functions where people gather is spiced up with music, and people may participate actively through dancing physically or just listen to the lyrics.

Music is a strong tool for promoting public participation in socioeconomic development and environmental management. Music provide opportunities for people to express their ideas and views about the environment, examine and interpret the environment from an aesthetic perspective. This makes them to become aware of and curious about the environment and acts as motivation to participate actively in resolving environmental problems.

Music is rich in communicative power for environmental messages to billions of people worldwide irrespective of race, religion, income, gender or age. It can assist people in learning many things such as the alphabet, grammar, learning about environmental processes such as natural cycles, ecosystems and environmental changes by examining songs of different ages. Music can be used to help people learn about pollution and recycling through making musical instruments using waste paper, cans and glass. People also express their feelings about various developments in the environment and their future environmental aspirations using music.

Music presents an opportunity to analyse phenomena and represents analytical documents through information provided in lyrics. The lyrics have the potential to be used as a source of geographic and historical evidence.

Music can help in popularising environmental information. The people are involved in writing music on many aspects of the environment as perceived by different cultures. People can also explore songs related to the environment that are still in use or were used by the community and this gives environmental education using Music an interesting historical approach. The prescribed activities look open and can accommodate a variety of ideas depending on learner and educator ingenuity.

Despite its worthiness, music also has negative effects on the environment in terms of being a consumer of rare timbers, a source of pollution (noise) and a weapon of psychological warfare. Forests of indigenous and exotic hardwoods are unable to keep up with the ever-growing demand for this type of wood and the illegal trade of these materials associated with increased demand and supply gap. In this regard, all efforts should be made to minimize these negative aspects of music.

To harness the power of Music in communicating environmental issues, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA – Kenya) has partnered with the National Music Festival of the Ministry of Education to promote development and performance of music with environmental messages. This partnership has now run for two years (2015 and 2016) and learners from basic and tertiary institutions have competed at school, sub-county, county and national level. NEMA sponsors the environmental category and for the last two years have been running a theme on waste management.

NEMA is keen to continue sponsoring this initiative in the coming years since we still have many environmental challenges affecting our country which need to be communicated to Kenyans innovatively.

So far several achievements have been made including the following
1. Composition and performance of music with environmental messages at every corner of Kenya where schools are located.
2. Increased levels of awareness on waste management issues
3. The award winning music pieces have been performed to high level leaders including H.E The President of Kenya and this is high level lobbying for attention on environmental issues.

We hope that the quality of songs with environmental messages will be up scaled and form part of Kenya’s best music hits by our celebrities. The ultimate climax is to have music influencing all of us to participate in delivering and safeguarding a clean and healthy environment as enshrined in Article 42 of the Kenyan Constitution.

Use of a branded truck to get awareness messages closer to the people


In November 2015, the world community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be implemented by all stakeholders including government, civil society, private sector, media, development partners and learning institutions. These players are expected to innovatively address the 17 goals and 169 targets to make our world more peaceful and livable. Goal 4 requires stakeholders to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Target 4.7 reiterates that by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Environmental challenges are a major concern for all humanity. In this regard, everybody is a learner who require to be educated to enable participation in environmental management. Environmental challenges are context specific and hence vary from place to place. The population needs contextualized knowledge, skills and relationships to enhance sustainable pursuit of development. The context in this regard informs the kind of intervention and education required to steer behavior change for sustainable development.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has prioritized implementation of initiatives on solid waste management this financial year. The initiatives include ensuring the public dispose their waste appropriately, and creating awareness on the same using diverse approaches. One of the awareness approaches that has been utilized is use of a branded truck.


A branded truck is a vehicle (normally a lorry) fitted with a powerful sound equipment including choice of appropriate music, and this truck moves from place to place attracting people with its noise. The noise comprise of choicest music and interludes of awareness messages on solid waste management.


The truck also has other accompaniments to the loud sound. The outer body is branded with solid awareness messages comprising of choicest photos or illustrations on waste management and appropriately crafted messages. Before the public hears the oral presentations, those who can read are already captured into the written messages and pictorials. Wherever the truck passes, the branding on the body with awareness messages serve as a mobile learning space on diverse solid waste management approaches. The diverse mix of colors serves to attract public attention to the vehicle. This approach has proved to be quite effective in raising public awareness in an abortion campaign done in the United States of America (Salladay, R., 2001)


Another crucial accompaniment of the branded truck are artists, mainly youths or prominent presenters. These artists are chosen due to proven prowess in capability to deliver captivating public utterances, or performing unique robotic gymnastics that attract the crowd. Thus as the truck moves around, the public cannot avoid being attracted to performances and funny utterances by the reknown or celebrated artists who facilitate the awareness creation drive.


To motivate public participation, the awareness team provide several gifts to people who have done well in waste management. For instance, a shopkeeper with a dustbin outside his/her premises may be given a T-shirt in addition to the announcement that he/she demonstrates good practice. Answering a question by a member of the public may also be rewarded with a hand bungle or a book or another awareness material on waste management. These goodies act as a motivator for demonstration of best environmental practices. Since the truck could move from place to place, it introduces the institution involved or concept being promoted to remote areas.


One may wonder why use of branded trucks and awareness caravans are crucial in reaching out to the public. There are several reasons why this approach is unique and include the following:-

1. The mobile truck can reach members of the public in places where educators could not have reached using conventional methods.


2. The innovative mix of loud sound, music, reknown artists and acrobatics makes the approach very appealing to members of the public and helps to capture their attention for some considerable time for environmental messages to be shared with them.


3. The approach encourages public debate on pertinent sustainable development challenges since the artists engage the public in an innovative way.


4. The use of small handouts such as Tshirts, bungles, and books with environmental messages among others serves as a motivator for the public to participate in the debate. Winning a prize regardless of its value is memorable to the participant as well as a psychological enrichment.


Moving ahead and reflecting on success made so far, NEMA wishes to upscale use of this approach to raise awareness on diverse environmental issues. The Kenyan counties could also pick up this innovation since they have a bigger role to play on environmental issues such as waste management and prevention of noise pollution.


Salladay, R., (2001) Abortion foes plan a convoy campaign Pictures of fetuses displayed on trucks, San Francisco Chronicle, November 24, 2001. Downloaded at http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Abortion-foes-plan-a-convoy-campaign-Pictures-2850786.php on 27th November 2016.

Framework for implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Kenya



The Government of Kenya is committed to promoting interventions on sustainable development in line with various global and regional frameworks. The country endorsed and adopted Agenda 21 that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UN, 1992). The UNCED recognised that achieving sustainable development would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people. The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) re-affirmed the objectives of the UNCED and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Further emphasis on need for enhancing interventions was reiterated during the World Summit on Sustainable Development which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 which gave rise to a roadmap document referred to as “The Future we Want”.

In 2015, the global community adopted Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out ambitious goals and targets shaping operations of all institutions from 2016 onwards. This agenda is now a global moral compass in the 21st century, a policy blueprint outlining a pathway to sustainable livelihoods, inclusive societies and sustainable environments (Walsh, 2016). The 2030 Agenda comprises of a universal set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 Targets to end poverty in all of its forms, in all nations by 2030. The natural environment underlies each of those ambitions. According to UNEP, all the 17 SDGs have an environmental dimension (see http://web.unep.org/unea/environmental-dimension-sdgs)

Kenya has domesticated global frameworks and conventions that support Sustainable Development into its Constitution and other legislation. Kenya promulgated her Constitution in 2010 and Article 10 describes sustainable development as a national value. Further, Article 42 and 69 makes it an obligation for the government and the citizens to protect the environment. In addition, Article 53 entitles every child with a right to free and compulsory education.The adoption of SDGs gave impetus to Kenya’s engagement with the need to actualize SD as a national goal. To this end diverse legislation and policies have been enacted to spearhead realization of sustainable development.

In order for the country to achieve SDGs, the Government has developed a Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) to support development efforts towards addressing key challenges such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, environmental degradation, climate change and variability, infrastructure gaps and food security among others. In addition Kenya’s Vision 2030 is the government’s principal document guiding socio-economic and political development. Vision 2030 document aspires to revitalize the country’s economic growth through harnessing of its natural resources. Education is identified as a key driver under the social pillar. The inspiration was to have an ESD policy developed and all education interventions reoriented to address ESD. Vision 2030 and GESIP have identified ESD as an effective strategy for building capacities to undertake a transition to a green economy in Kenya.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act, Cap 387 is a framework law that provides for effective coordination and regulation of all actions that have a direct influence on the environment. Section 42 (4) of the Basic Education Act stipulates that ‘the Cabinet Secretary of Education shall upon advice of the National Education Board advise the government on the promotion of environmental protection education for sustainable development’.

The 2013-2018 National Education Sector Plan (NESP) provides a strategy for education and training to promote ESD with reference to the Global Action Programme. Sessional Paper No. 2 of 2015 on Reforming Education and Training in Kenya envisages a curriculum that is competence-based to foster quality education in the country (Republic of Kenya, 2015). Through this policy, the Ministry of Education is committed to promoting ESD as a key element to enable sustainable development and quality education.

ESD activities in Kenya have been implemented within an overall framework of the UN Decade of ESD (2005-2014) and the Kenya ESD Implementation Strategy (2008). The ESD Implementation Strategy has guided ESD interventions through eight interlinked strategies of advocacy and vision building, consultation and ownership, partnership and networks, capacity building and training, research and innovation, use of ICT, monitoring and evaluation, and Regional Centres of Expertise (Republic of Kenya, 2008). Further, the country has developed a national ESD policy (Sessional Paper No. 11 of 2014 on National Education for Sustainable Development Policy) spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The policy provides mechanisms for engaging all stakeholders in addressing sustainable development challenges through education.

Kenyas engagement with SDGs

Kenya’s Public sector engages with SDGs as a directive from the Central Government through mandatory Performance Contracting. The Kenya Gazette Notice Number 2431 and Legal Notice Number 93 of August 2004 set regulations and performance contracting in public service and State Corporations in Kenya. All public sector executives are obligated to sign performance contracts with the central government. Implementation of SDGs is managed by two institutions namely the 1) Ministry of Devolution and Planning and 2) the National Environment Management Authority. Each institution is expected to report to NEMA and Ministry of Devolution and Planning simultaneously. There are many similarities in demands from both institutions. However it is critical to note that NEMA’s process has a lot of bias on addressing Environmental Sustainability issues while the Ministry of Devolution process is more broader and include social and economic aspects which may have escaped NEMA’s interest.

A. Ministry of Devolution and Planning

The Performance contracting guidelines provide that all Public Institutions implement the SDGs and report to Ministry of Devolution and Planning (RoK, 2016). These institutions are advised to:-
– Identify SDGs relevant to their mandate
– Carry out awareness creation on relevant SDGs
– Integrate the relevant SDGs in respective Ministry, Department and Agency’s (MDA’s) Policy and Development Plans
– Submit Quarterly reports to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning

These expectations imply that Kenya takes implementation of SDGs seriously and has cascaded their implementation to diverse institutions. These institutions will be in a position to implement all the SDGs since their collective interventions spread over all aspects of SDGs.

B. National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)

One of the targets the public institutions are expected to meet through performance contracting is environmental sustainability. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is tasked with the responsibility of elaborating what this target entails. NEMA has since 2012 defined and clarified this target, and has identified 6 areas that should be addressed including:-

1. Sustainability planning
2. Pollution control
3. Climate change
4. Environmental Ecological enhancement
5. Environmental Education and awareness
6. Promoting partnerships

NEMA has further explained the steps to be taken by the institutions as they implement Sustainability targets above. Figure 1 summarizes the process of engagement with public sector institutions in engaging on sustainability targets.


Figure 1 shows that implementation of PC targets is systemic and proactive. It starts with the establishment of the Institutional Sustainability Committee who guide the entire process. The committee is expected to spearhead development of the Institutional Sustainability Policy, undertaking of annual sustainability audits, development of sustainability workplans and implementation of the same. In addition, the committee is expected to ensure quarterly progress reports are submitted to NEMA. NEMA in return reviews the reports and gives feedback to the institutions every quarter. At the end of each Financial year, NEMA assesses each institution’s quarterly submissions relative to the sustainability policy, annual audits and the annual workplan and awards a score to the institution. This score is forwarded to the Executive Office of the President as part of the overall national performance Contract Assessment and forms part of the basis for rewards and sanctions for the Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors for the particular institution.

Further elaboration of Environmental Sustainability activities

The National Environment Management Authority has provided a detailed explanation of the kind of activities that public institutions should engage with to promote environmental sustainability. Explanation of expectations from the 6 areas is as explained below.

1. Environmental sustainability planning

Any sustainability intervention needs to be planned for. Sustainability challenges are contextual and vary spatial-temporary. Institutions also are endowed differently and hence need to identify their sustainability challenges, prioritize them, including their interventions. Hence NEMA has elaborated implementation of environmental sustainability planning into several levels.

a) Development of an institutional environmental policy

Under this requirement, all institutions are expected to develop an institutional environmental sustainability policy which outlines the institution’s intent to address sustainability issues based on local contextual challenges. This document is expected to be developed by the institutional experts and to undergo relevant approvals such as by the Senior Management and the non-executive Board or Council as is appropriate. In case of Ministries, the Environmental Sustainability policy is expected to be approved by the Principal Secretary. The policy document and proof of relevant approvals is expected to be presented to NEMA as evidence of appropriate engagement of top management and hence assurance of buy in by the institutions. The appropriate approvals suggests that the policy has high probability of getting implemented.

b) Undertake Environmental Sustainability Audit

Each institution is expected to kick off environmental sustainability engagement by undertaking an audit to determine baselines of current sustainability position. Institutions are expected to identify sustainability issues relevant to them and determine the levels of diverse parameters. For instance on water issues, the institution will determine how much water is received and account for its use including any leakages. The same applies for energy, waste management, and transport among others. This audit is expected to illuminate gaps to be addressed to enhance sustainability. This audit is conducted every year to show progress towards sustainability.

c) Appointment of a Sustainability Committee

Every institution is expected to appoint a team to guide sustainability interventions. The team is expected to demonstrate diversity of competencies such as water audit, energy audit, waste audit, cost benefit analysis among others. The committee is expected to meet regularly to deliberate on implementation of sustainability interventions. NEMA requires the minutes of these meetings as evidence of proactive engagement.

d) Adopting environment as a core value in the Service Charter

All public institutions in Kenya have a Citizen Service Charter. Inclusion of environmental conservation as a core value suggests the level of commitment by the institution to make sure that all staff are oriented towards sustainable development at all times.

e) Providing information when requested to by NEMA

EMCA Cap 387 mandates NEMA to request for information from any institution for the purpose of preparation of State of Environment (SOE) reports and Environment Actions Plan (EAPs).

2. Pollution Control

The emphasis of this theme entails demonstrating compliance to different environmental regulations. Kenya has enacted numerous environmental regulations to promote sustainable development.

a) Compliance to Waste management regulations, 2006 involves undertaking interventions such as
– The concept of 3R which entails reducing, reusing, and recycling of waste in the respective institutions
– Proof of proper disposal of solid waste, air conditioners, asbestos and E-waste among others as further explained in the Procurement and Disposal Act 2015
– Installation of waste segregation bins

b) Under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Audit Regulations (2003) Institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Proof of undertaking Strategic Environmental Assessments for new policies, programs and plans
– Proof of undertaking Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for new projects
– Proof of submission of comments during EIA review (when requested to by NEMA)
– Submission of annual environmental audit reports

c) Under Noise and Excessive Vibrations Regulations (2008) institutions are expected to demonstrate
measures to minimize noise and excessive vibrations

d) Under Air Quality Regulations, institutions are expected to demonstrate measures to reduce air pollution including Green House Gases (GHGs)

d) Under Water Quality Regulations (2006), institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Measures to minimize release of waste water to the environment
– Proper disposal of waste water

3. Climate Change mitigation and adaptation

The Climate change Act (2016) mandates NEMA to undertake several activities on behalf of the National Climate Change Council. These roles forms part of the tasks included in the perormance contracts of public institutions and include

(a) monitor, investigate and report on whether public and private entities are in compliance with the climate change duties assigned by the National Climate Change Council;
(b) ascertain that private entities are in conformity with instructions given by the Council
(c) regulate, enforce and monitor compliance on levels of greenhouse gas emissions as set by the Council
(d) NEMA shall, annually, report to the Council on the performance of functions under the Climate Change Act 2016, and such report shall form part of the report by the Council to the National Assembly.

Under this aspect, climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives for institutions include:-
– Installation of energy saving devices, renewable energy, water harvesting,
– Proof of measures to control green house gases
– Proof of mitigation and adaptation initiatives
– Development of green buildings, adopting green operations
– Compliance to Controlled substances regulations, 2007 with regard to importation, use and disposal of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

4. Environmental Ecological enhancement
Under this aspect, institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Compliance to the Conservation of biological diversity, access and benefit sharing regulations, 2006
– Proof of authority or permit to access genetic resources
– Proof of benefit sharing arrangements on utilization of biological and genetic resources with local communities
– Compliance to Wetlands, River banks, lakeshores, and seashore management regulations, 2009
– Submission of EIA reports for new projects where applicable
– Submission of annual Environmental Audit reports
– Development and implementation of environmental management plans for forests, wetlands, coastal zone, and environment significant areas among others

5. Environmental Education and awareness

Under this aspect, institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Proof of behavior change among staff
– Sensitization of staff and public on Environmental sustainability relevant to the institutional mandate
– Participation in environmental events with communities and schools
– Recognition of environmental champions

6 Partnerships

Under this aspect, institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Environmental projects and activities undertaken through partnership with stakeholders
– Memorandum of understanding with their partners
– Joint management plans
– Corporate social responsibility (CSR) on environment
– Proof of Partnerships with NEMA on Monitoring and inspections to ensure compliance with environment legislation

Cooperative analysis of extent of coverage of SDGs using the Environmental sustainability targets

The coverage of SDGs through the sustainability targets is as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Coverage of SDGs through the 6 Sustainability Targets proposed by NEMA for public institutions


Table 1 shows that the NEMA managed Sustainability Targets for Public Institutions covers all the 17 SDGs. Hence NEMA as an institution is on the forefront in championing for SDGs in Kenya through the Mandatory PC Sustainability Targets. The process of engagement of the public institutions ensures that there is proactive engagement and consistent guidance by NEMA to ensure upscaling of realization of SDGs.

Role of Regional Centres of Expertise in promoting realization of SDGs

An RCE is not a center in a traditional sense but a network of existing formal, non-formal and informal education organizations, mobilized to deliver education for sustainable development (ESD) to local and regional communities (UNU, 2002). RCEs aspire to achieve the aspirations of Sustainable Development by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate. An RCE involves diverse stakeholders including school teachers, professors at higher education institutions, environmental NGOs, scientists, researchers, museums, zoos, botanical gardens, local government officials, representatives of local enterprises, volunteers, media, civic associations or individuals who work in the spheres of sustainable development such as economic growth, social development, and environmental protection, students and learners at all levels (UNU, 2002).

Kenyan RCEs are hosted in universities most of which are players in performance contracting arrangement of the Central Government. NEMA coordinates the activities of RCEs in Kenya and helps to bring institutions together to establish an RCE. Kenya currently has 9 RCEs acknowledged by the United Nations University (UNU). These RCEs operate in different regions of the country. The list of Kenyan RCEs is provided below.

1. RCE Greater Nairobi Region hosted by Kenyatta University
2. RCE Mau Complex hosted by Egerton University
3. RCE Kakamega Western Kenya hosted by Masinde Muliro University
4. RCE Nyanza hosted by Maseno University
5. RCE Greater Pwani hosted by Pwani University
6. RCE North Rift Valley hosted by University of Eldoret
7. RCE Maasai Mara hosted by Maasai Mara University
8. RCE Central Kenya hosted by Kimathi University
9. RCE Upper Eastern hosted by Kenya Methodist University

Further, these 9 RCEs have established a National Network dubbed “Kenya National Network of RCEs” and have their own governance system including elected leaders. The coordinators of the network hold a meeting every year and a national conference where innovations from diverse RCEs are shared with members of the public. NEMA also assists each RCE to hold mobilization meetings to recruit more members, share experiences and to plan together.

RCEs create a local/regional knowledge base to support ESD actors, and promote four major goals of ESD in a resource-effective manner. They can champion ESD programs tailored to address SDG issues and local context of the community in which they operate. Universities being hosts, coordinators and key members of RCEs, must work closely with the local communities.

RCEs also play a role in increasing access to quality education that is most needed in the regional context as well as deliver trainers’ training programs especially on SDGs. This also entail development of methodologies and SDG learning materials for use by the trainers. RCEs should also lead advocacy and awareness raising efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of SDGs and essential role of ESD in achieving a sustainable future. This will promote the long-term goals of ESD such as environmental stewardship, social justice, and improvement of the quality of life (UNU, 2002).

An RCE is characterized by a well-defined system of governance and management with an emphasis on enhancing collaborative partnerships and an inclusion of a research component in its activities. The four issues of governance, collaboration, research and development and transformative education are the core elements of RCEs and the way they are addressed determines the success of RCEs contribution to promotion of SDGs.


Republic of Kenya (2016) Guidance for preparing the 13th Cycle (FY 2016/2017)Performance Contracts. The Presidency, Nairobi.

United Nations Environment Assembly (Undated) The Environmental dimensions of SDGs. Downloaded on 22nd November 2016 from http://web.unep.org/unea/environmental-dimension-sdgs

UNU, (2002).Regional Centers of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from http://www.ias.unu.edu

Walsh, P.P., (2016) Implementing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in Ireland: A Case for Hybrid Sustainable Development Parliamentary Committees. Irish Studies in International Affairs, pp. 1-11

Parliamentarians are clear on type of education for Kenyans

ESD Policy Cover page

The Kenyan Vision 2030 identified education as a key driver for sustainable development. To attain this, Vision 2030 recommended that an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Policy be developed and curriculum at all levels be reoriented to address ESD. This activity was to be spearheaded by Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources while NEMA provided technical leadership in collaboration with other stakeholders.

The ESD Policy development was quite lengthy and was overseen by the National ESD Taskforce, Environment Policy Development Secretariat (EPDS) and NEMA through consultative activities such as
1. Multisectoral and multidisciplinary stakeholder meetings
2. Sectoral policy formulation workshops for various ministries and departments
3. Review of other policies
4. Validation at regional and one national workshop
5. Adoption by the National Environment Council
6. Cabinet Approval
7. Approval by the National Assembly in November 2015

The Kenya ESD policy statements are guided by the 4 objectives of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) namely
1. Improve quality of education at all levels for sustainable development
2. Reorient education at all levels for sustainable development
3. Enhance public understanding and awareness of sustainable development
4. Build capacity for sustainable development

The objectives, policy statement and strategies for implementing ESD captured in the ESD Policy document are as follows

Objective 1: To improve the quality of education at all levels for sustainable development

Policy Statement: The government and stakeholders shall mainstream ESD in all teaching and learning processes.

1. Strengthening and realigning the ESD coordinating institutions.
2. Improve methods of teaching and learning
3. Promote acquisition of innovative and creative skills
4. Integrate positive indigenous knowledge and practices that promote achievement of ESD
5. Promote acquisition of relevant competencies for national and global citizenship
6. Develop and operationalise appropriate local training programmes
7. Encourage linkages and exchange programmes with best practices among stakeholders.
8. Recognize, document and disseminate local innovations

Objective 2: Re-orientation of education at all levels for sustainable development

Policy Statement: The government and stakeholders to review and implement curricula so as to address ESD concerns.

1. Review existing curricula to address ESD concerns
2. Ensure curriculum content allows for local relevance and cultural appropriateness
3. Promote flexible curriculum frameworks to facilitate entry, exit and continuous learning
4. Promote practical (hands on) teaching.

Objective 3: Enhancing public understanding and awareness on ESD

Policy statement: The Government and stakeholders shall promote public understanding and awareness of education for sustainable development.

1. Sensitize the public at all levels on education for sustainable development.
2. Establish and strengthen Regional Centers of Expertise
3. Promote public participation in activities relevant to ESD
4. Mainstream ESD activities in all exhibitions and trade fairs
5. Promote production of relevant public education and awareness materials on ESD.
6. Integrate in all awareness programmes, positive indigenous knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices that promote social development and economic empowerment

Objective 4:To build capacity within the country for sustainable development.

Policy statement: The Government and stakeholders shall promote life-long learning within all contexts.

1. Establish regional centers of expertise for training and capacity building
2. Strengthen ESD implementing institutions
3. Promote research in ESD and outreach
4. Mobilize resources to support ESD capacity building at all levels
5. Establish and utilize ICT platforms for capacity building
6. Promote and share ESD best practices


1. What institution do you normally relate with such as school, religious institution, place of work etc?
2. Which strategies can you implement in that institution?
3. What activities could you easily undertake?

What kind of education is prescribed for you and your children?

ESD implementation strategy

Do you know that the year 2005-2014 was the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD)? Within this period, governments were expected to promote education across sectors on sustainable development using formal and non-formal approaches. UNESCO spearheaded the global interventions. In Kenya, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in collaboration with other key stakeholders.

In 2008, Kenya developed an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) implementation strategy meant to guide all ESD interventions and provide an enabling environment and capacity for all sectors and stakeholders.

The goal of ESD is “To provide an education that enhances sustainable development in Kenya”.

The strategy was guided by the following objectives

1. To enhance the role of education and learning for equitable, efficient and sustainable utilization of the country’s resources.
2. Promoting quality education through diverse learning and public awareness for improved quality of life and productive livelihoods.
3. To promote teaching and learning that inculcates appropriate values, behavior and lifestyles for good governance and sustainability.
4. To strengthen the legal and institutional framework for effective coordination and management of ESD in Kenya.
5. Ensuring sustainable management of the environment and natural resources for national economic growth and also improving people’s livelihood and well-being

The ESD Implementation Strategy identified the following strategies for its implementation

1. Advocacy and vision building
2. Partnerships and networks
3. Use of ICT
4. Consultation and ownership
5. Monitoring and evaluation
6. Research and innovation
7. Regional Centers of expertise
8. Capacity building and training

The guiding principles for ESD are as follows

1. Sharing of values and principles underpinning sustainable development.
2. Promote critical thinking and problem solving.
3. Providing a learner-centered environment.
4. Interdisciplinary and holistic learning embedded in the whole curriculum.
5. Addressing local as well as global issues.
6. Ensuring that citizens understand and participates actively in promoting interdependence, citizenship, stewardship, needs and rights of current and future generations, diversity, quality of life, values and perceptions, conflict resolution.

In my other article, I will discuss in detail how the ESD strategy was upgraded into an ESD Policy and passed by Kenya National Assembly. You can read this article here.

Impacts of El Nino visible along the Kenyan beaches


A walk along the Kenyan Coastal beach at Malindi will reveal the adversities of El Nino and hence climate change. I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing all the trash from upcountry that have been swept to the sea through the Sabaki Estuary and scattered along several kilometres of the beach by the powerful ocean waves. I am used to the white sandy beach but what confronted me was dark thick layers of debris scattered the entire beach area.


The key question to ask is, where did this trash came from? Scientific evidence shows that the rivers emptying in the ocean come from upcountry especially Mount Kenya region, Nairobi and Ukambani region. Hence these are the regions that are responsible for littering our beaches as a result of El Nino. Surprisingly this deposited litter has led to formation of new land mass, all that beach front you see on the pictures is new. Hence Central and Eastern Kenya could claim a piece of the coastal zone (if only the soil particles could speak and say where they originated from. Tonnes of their top fertile soil have been eroded and deposited in the Indian Ocean and established the new found land.


Its important to note that the Sabaki Estuary is several kilometers away and seeing scattered debris of such thickness is evidence that tonnes of debris was carried downstream. If you observe the estuary area from the sky, the water is brown in color with suspended soil particles. The soil depicts that it originates from volcanic rocks of Mt Kenya region and Eastern Kenya.

From the pictures scattered on this page, it is evident that the El Nino phenomena wrecked havok wherever it passed. If the water could uproot whole trees, bananas and heavy boulders, what could have happened to our fertile top soil in the farms where the water passed? Definitely, it was all carried downstream, leaving behind very impoverished soils, which will in the next few months lead to declined food security, hunger and poverty.
Rarely do we consider the holistic losses emanating from a simple phenomenon like El Nino. We are normally very preoccupied with preventing loss of life and adapting to the aftermath of the deluge through rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure. But the costs from El Nino are major and negatively impact the country’s sustainable development. I’d wish to discuss briefly these impacts within the three pillars of sustainable development namely environmental, social and economic pillars.
At the environmental front, El Nino is responsible for flooding, erosion of top soil, spread of water related diseases such as cholera and malaria among others. Due to siltation of water, some people are left with no quality water for their use and hence there is lack of water. The flooded areas harbor some species of organisms that cannot tolerate waterlogging and they die while plants dry up.
Scattering debris along beach
On the social front, El Nino is responsible for deaths and displacement of populations. Flooding blocks members of the community from accessing essential facilities such as schools, hospitals and other social amenities. Some cultural activities cannot take place due to adversities of El Nino.
Economically, El Nino is responsible for loss of jobs and money. Damage to infrastructure, homes, farms, death of livestock, decrease of working hours due to disease, and poverty among others cannot be overemphasized. These losses are normally tabulated into millions of dollars.

With the many plans that were put in place to counter the impacts of El Nino, very little was said about loss of top soil. Besides loss of life, this is the second most expensive cost of El Nino which calls for a proactive approach to address it. The El Nino effect will be over soon but the impact will live with us a little longer. We will soon experience poor harvests, hunger and poverty.

The same vigor and preparedness we demonstrated when we waited for El Nino should be turned to reducing the impacts of the next El Nino. Let it not carry any more vegetation and top soil to the ocean. Let us ensure that we invest in saving our top soil which takes thousands of years to develop through natural weathering process.

Some of the investments needed now include

1. Planting trees along the catchment areas to hold the soil together and to reduce impact of raindrops on the ground and enhance percolation of rainwater to the ground.
2. Building of water holding reservoirs to harvest the rain water as well as to reduce the eroding power of the El Nino.
3. Ensure our wetlands (swamps, lakes, bogs) are protected to act as trapping grounds for this excess water as well as to filter any eroded fertile soil so that we don’t lose it to the ocean.
4. Public awareness for people to understand the negative and costly effects of El Nino and their responsibility in addressing the challenge from a long term perspective.

Hence, let us not stop anticipating El Nino but let us make every day an intervention day to reduce future impacts of the menace.

Benefits of being ISO 14001 certified


The concept of sustainable development (SD) emerged in the 1980s in response to a growing realisation of the need to balance economic and social progress with concern for the environment and the stewardship of natural resources. The concept of sustainable development was first introduced by the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN et al., 1980) but gained worldwide support with the publication of Our Common Future by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987. WCED was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 36/161 in 1983.

The World Conservation Strategy (IUCN et al. 1980) and the Brundtrand Report (WCED, 1987) explored the concept of development and its relationship with the physical limits of the supporting ecological systems. The Brundtland Report considered sustainable development as

“development that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their needs” (WCED, 1987:43).

At corporate level, there are many tools used in steering sustainable development processes which includes international standards such as ISO 14001. Some of the benefits of implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) in accordance with the ISO 14001 standards, includes

  • discovering areas for reduction in energy usage and other resource expenditure,
  • reducing environmental liability and risk-  helping to maintain reliable compliance with legislative & regulatory requirements,

    – benefiting form regulatory incentives that reward companies

    – showing environmental leadership through certified compliance with an internationally recognized EMS standard,

    – averting pollution and reducing waste,

    – responding to pressure from customers and shareholders

    – improving community goodwill,

    – profiting in the market for “green” products,

    – respond to insurance company pressure for proof of good management before pollution-incident coverage is issued, and

    – demonstrating commitment to high-quality.


Ndaruga A.M. (2015) Education for Sustainable Development Explained. Manilla Publishers, Nairobi

http://www.asrworldwide.com/frequently-asked-questions-about-standards/68-what-are-benefits-of-becoming-iso-14001-certified.html downloaded on 9th September 2015

Principles of Sustainable Development

Aberdare forest

The concept of Sustainable Development is broad and cannot be easily captured in a simple one sentence definition. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development listed the principles of sustainability which in essence helps us to understand the scope of sustainable development.

1. People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
2. Development today must not undermine the development and environment needs of present and future generations.
3. Nations have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources, but without causing environmental damage beyond their borders.
4. Nations shall develop international laws to provide compensation for damage that activities under their control cause to areas beyond their borders.
5. Nations shall use the precautionary approach to protect the environment. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, scientific uncertainty shall not be used to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
6. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process, and cannot be considered in isolation from it. Eradicating poverty and reducing disparities in living standards in different parts of the world are essential to achieve sustainable development and meet the needs of the majority of people.
7. Nations shall cooperate to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command.
8. Nations should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and promote appropriate demographic policies.
9. Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens. Nations shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making environmental information widely available.
10. Nations shall enact effective environmental laws, and develop national law regarding liability for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. Where they have authority, nations shall assess the environmental impact of proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact.
11. Nations should cooperate to promote an open international economic system that will lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries. Environmental policies should not be used as an unjustifiable means of restricting international trade.
12. The polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution.
13. Nations shall warn one another of natural disasters or activities that may have harmful transboundary impacts.
14. Sustainable development requires better scientific understanding of the problems. Nations should share knowledge and innovative technologies to achieve the goal of sustainability.
15. The full participation of women is essential to achieve sustainable development. The creativity, ideals and courage of youth and the knowledge of indigenous people are needed too. Nations should recognize and support the identity, culture and interests of indigenous people.
16. Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development, and Nations shall respect international laws protecting the environment in times of armed conflict, and shall cooperate in their further establishment.
17. Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.

When an educator or governments plan for local or national/regional interventions, the “Rio principles” provide necessary parameters to conceptualize our actions. Hence it is imperative that educators and policy makers reflect on these principles in all sustainable development interventions.

Driving values for sustainable development

Caring for the earth

According to IUCN et al. 1991, there are nine principles that should form the ethical platform of sustainable living. These principles fall within two broad categories or aims, that is, maintaining ecological sustainability and promoting social justice. These principles are

Aim: Maintaining ecological sustainability – linking people and nature

* respect and care for the community of life
* conserving the vitality and diversity of the earth
* minimising the exhaustion of non-renewable resources
* keeping within the carrying capacity of the earth

Aim: Promoting social justice – linking people and people

* improving the quality of human life
* changing personal attitudes and practices
* enabling communities to care for their own environments
* forming a national framework for the integration of development and conservation
* forming a world alliance to implement sustainability on a global scale.

Most of these principles, values and duties were noted to be alive in the cultural and religious practices in most parts of the world (IUCN et al. 1991:12). Similar sentiments had also been raised in many UN conferences since the early 1970’s when environmental concerns were publicised. So, the principles were more or less an effort to consolidate what was happening and had been documented in the global arena.

The Kenyan ESD Implementation Strategy identifies the following underlying values of sustainable development (NEMA 2008).

* Respect for dignity and human rights of all people throughout the world
* commitment to social and economic justice for all;
* Respect for the human rights of future generations and a commitment to intergenerational responsibility;
* Respect and care for the greater community of life in all its diversity which involves the protection and restoration of Earth’s ecosystems;
* Respect for cultural diversity and a commitment to build locally and globally a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace

Typology of values


Explain the following regarding your local community

  • What sustainable development values are promoted within their culture, religious beliefs and practices?
  • Are there any challenges influencing sustainability of the values mentioned above?


Ndaruga A.M. (2015) Education for Sustainable Development Explained. Manilla Publishers, Nairobi

A-B-C-D process of the Natural Step Framework

A-B-C-D process

Countries and institutions are committed to promoting sustainable development. One of the tools used is the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development also regarded as the Natural Step framework.

The A-B-C-D method to applying the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development consists of four steps which are repeated as an organisation progresses toward sustainability

A – Awareness raising and visioning
Aligns the organization around a common understanding of sustainability and identifies a ‘whole-systems’ context for that organization; building a common language around sustainability as well as creating a vision of what that organization would look like in a sustainable future. Participants review details of the state of the earth’s systems, including the ecological, social and economic trends that are undermining our ability to create and manage healthy and prosperous ecosystems, businesses and communities. During the visioning process, people are encouraged to set ambitious goals which may require radical changes in how the organization operates. Some goals may take many years to achieve.
This is where businesses often begin to identify the service they provide independent of any one product (for example, providing education services). Incorporating this awareness into the visioning process unleashes innovation and releases the company from preconceived limitations.

B- Baseline Mapping
This step uses the four sustainability principles to conduct a sustainability ‘gap analysis’ of the major flows and impacts of the organisation to see how its activities are running counter to sustainability principles. The analysis includes an evaluation of products and services, energy, capital and human resources from ‘cradle to cradle’. The assessment also looks at the social context and organisational culture in order to understand how to positively introduce change. This allows the organisation to identify critical sustainability issues, their business implications, any assets they may have and opportunities for change.

C- Creative Solutions
In this step, people are asked to brainstorm potential solutions to the issues highlighted in the baseline analysis without any constraints. Armed with their vision of success and potential actions, organisations look backwards from the vision to develop strategies toward sustainability. This is called backcasting and it prevents people from developing strategies that just solve the problems of today. Instead, they begin with the end in mind, moving towards a shared vision of sustainability, with each action providing a platform for further improvement.

D- Decide on Priorities
After identifying the opportunities and potential solutions in the ‘C’ step, the group prioritises the measures that move the organisation toward sustainability fastest, while optimising flexibility as well as maximising social, ecological and economic returns. This step supports effective, step-by-step implementation and action planning. At this stage, organisations can pick the ‘low-hanging fruit’ – actions that are fairly easy to implement and offer a rapid return on investment in order to build internal support and excitement for the planning process.
Backcasting is used to continually assess decisions and actions to see whether they are moving the organisation toward the desired outcome identified in ‘A’ step (awareness and visioning)

Organisations are not expected to achieve long-term goals immediately. They’re encouraged to move systematically by making investments that will provide benefits in the short-term, while also retaining a long-term perspective.

Applying the ABCD method. Downloaded at http://www.naturalstep.ca/abcd on 7th September 2015

Non-formal Environmental Education and Awareness: Case study of NEMA, Kenya

Non formal Environmental education at NEMA

The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) was established by the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (1999) “to exercise general supervision and coordination over all matters relating to the environment and to be the principal instrument of government in the implementation of all policies relating to the environment” as provided for under section 9. The Authority has spearheaded development of several regulations, standards and guidelines in consultation with diverse Lead Agencies to operationalise the Act.

NEMA has several departments one of which is Environmental Education, Information and Public Participation. We undertake several activities guided by our quality objectives which include

1. To facilitate Environmental Education and Awareness
2. To mobilize the public to participate in environmental conservation and management
3. To establish national and regional information resource centers
4. To promote best environmental practices

NEMAs approaches to Environmental Education and awareness include the following
1. Education for Sustainable Development
2. Regional centres of expertise (RCEs) http://tinyurl.com/ndz2g6c

3. Capacity building/training
4. Targeted consultative meetings
5. Recognition and promotion of environmental best practices
6. Development of awareness materials
7. Exhibitions e.g. ASK shows, etc
8. Special Environment Days e.g. WED, WWD, WDCD
9. Environmental information centres
10. E-learning
11. Environmental Change Projects

Each of these approaches is discussed in greater detail on the link alongside each procedure. Read more from each link.

Climate change in Northern Kenya explained

Turkana women making soap

Turkana women making soap

This video explains a study done in Northern Kenya on climate change vulnerability and responses. 

Climate change is most serious challenge of our time. It is characterized by changing weather patterns including floods, drought, hunger, famine, changes in disease ecology etc. People respond to climate change variabilities differently. 

Has climate change affected your region? How have people responded?