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Environmental Governance in Kenya: Prospects and Challenges

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By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publication of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 outlines the obligations of the State in respect of the environment as including the duty to: ensure sustainable exploitation, utilization, management and conservation of the environment and natural resources, and ensure the equitable sharing of the accruing benefits; work to achieve and maintain a tree cover of at least ten per cent of the land area of Kenya; protect and enhance intellectual property in, and indigenous knowledge of, biodiversity and the genetic resources of the communities; encourage public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment; protect genetic resources and biological diversity; establish systems of environmental impact assessment, environmental audit and monitoring of the environment; eliminate processes and activities that are likely to endanger the environment; and utilize the environment and natural resources for the benefit of the people of Kenya.

Notably, the Constitution of Kenya also places a duty on every person to cooperate with State organs and other persons to protect and conserve the environment and ensure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources. The existing policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, as highlighted in select statutes, appear to suggest that the sustainable management of resources agenda is one to be driven by the State, especially in terms of decision-making, and not in collaboration with the local community.

The Constitution envisages a collaborative approach between communities and the State. Decision making processes still seem to be largely top-down in nature and communities are only afforded opportunities to apply for resource user rights, with little or no consultations regarding management and governance matters. The Court in Kenya Association of Manufacturers & 2 others v Cabinet Secretary – Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources & 3 others [2017] eKLR, stated that in determining environmental disputes at any stage, Kenyan courts are obliged to be guided by and promote the constitutional framework on the environment as spelt out in Articles 42, 69 and 70 of the Constitution and the legislative framework set out in the EMCA.

In this regard, Articles 42, 69 and 70 of the Constitution and the broad environmental principles set out in Section 3 of the EMCA are important tools in the interpretation of the law and adjudication of environmental disputes. Invariably, the environmental governance legal framework and any other relevant legislative instrument [substantive or subsidiary], ought to be construed in a manner that promotes the letter and spirit of the above constitutional underpinnings and general principles in Section 3 of the EMCA. While not intending to downplay the place of command-and-control approach to environmental governance in some cases, this approach has a tendency to focus more on achieving conservation goals and tackling environmental degradation challenges at the expense of also seeking to ensure that these resources help in achieving social justice for the Kenyan people as far as the use environmental resources is concerned. The public participation, consultations and institutional accountability requirements as provided for under different laws are at times treated as a formality. Social justice goals seem to be relegated to a secondary place.

At the same time, there is need for revisiting of the formal and state-centered governance solutions in environmental management. This calls for reevaluation of the effectiveness of the enforcement power of the state as against solutions or approaches based on voluntary cooperation within the environmental governance framework in Kenya. Some scholars have observed that institutions resolve environmental conflicts by striking a particular balance between conflicting interests by either establishing, reaffirming or redefining entitlements in environmental resources. In other words, they seek to strike a balance between anthropocentric and ecocentric approaches to environmental governance. An anthropocentric approach to environmental governance would focus on poverty eradication, food security, environmental democracy, environmental justice, environmental security, public participation, gender equity, access to information and conflicts management, amongst others. Ecocentric approaches dwell on themes such as combating climate change, impact of resource extraction, environmental health, and environmental conservation for the sake of the Mother Nature.

Conflicts over natural resources and environmental crimes intensify the problems. The risks of violent conflict increase when exploitation of natural resources causes environmental damage, loss of livelihood, or unequal distribution of benefits. The Court in Kenya Association of Manufacturers & 2 others v Cabinet Secretary – Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources & 3 others [2017] eKLR, pointed out that a court seized of an environmental dispute, whether at the interlocutory stage or at the substantive hearing, is to bear in mind that, through their judgments and rulings, courts play a crucial role in promoting environmental governance, upholding the rule of law, and in ensuring a fair balance between competing environmental, social, developmental and commercial interests. This is an affirmation of the fact that courts, in collaboration with other stakeholders in the environmental governance matters, also have a role to play.

It has rightly been argued that the aim of participatory approaches is to place policy programmes (and in particular the sustainability process) on a broad social base and to mobilize hitherto unused supporters and knowledge repositories. Involving citizens and NGOs thus offers untapped potential for environmental policy. In addition, citizens serving as an added resource for environmental policy need a system of incentives and an infrastructure of rights and information. This includes transparency regarding the environmental credentials of products on the market, and rights of information, participation and access to justice for citizens and environmental groups. The will to participate also presupposes a minimum of accurate and problem focused environmental reporting in the media. There is again a wide-ranging need for capacity building.

The State should also consult widely when coming up with the methods of benefit sharing especially with regard to the local community. It is only through mobilizing the efforts of all the relevant stakeholders that the constitutional provisions on the environment and natural resources can effectively be implemented and make it possible to achieve sustainable development. The various sectoral laws and policies must be designed in a way that protects the environment from degradation, and also involves communities through measures that encourage active participation in benefit sharing or decision-making processes, whether through incentives or otherwise. Customary approaches to environmental governance can be incorporated into the formal environmental governance frameworks as a tool for facilitating participation of communities. As already pointed out, the law should include both formal and customary approaches to governance.

*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya): Muigua, K., Revisiting the Role of Law in Environmental Governance in Kenya, Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/ wp-content/uploads/ 2019/06/Revisiting-the-Role-of-Law-in-Environmental-Governance-in-Kenya-Kariuki-Muigua-June-2019.pdf. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is Kenya’s foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2021. 

References

Bell, C., “Governance and Law: The Distinctive Context of Transitions from Conflict and its Consequences for Development Interventions,” Briefing Paper 4, (The Political Settlements Programme Consortium, 2015), pp.1-2. Available at: https://www.politicalsettlements.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2015 _BP_4_Bell_Governance-and-Law.pdf [Accessed on 14/12/2021].

Bridge, G., & Perreault, T., “Environmental governance,” A Companion to Environmental Geography (2009): 475- 497.

Constitution of Kenya, Laws of Kenya, Government Printer, Nairobi, 2010.

Jänicke, M., & Jörgens, H., “New approaches to environmental governance,” Environmental Governance in Global Perspective. New Approaches to Ecological and Political Modernisation. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin (2006): 167-209.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers & 2 others v Cabinet Secretary – Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources & 3 others [2017] eKLR, Petition 32 of 2017.

Lemos, M. C., & Agrawal, A., “Environmental governance,” Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour,. 31 (2006): 297-325.

Muigua, K., Nurturing Our Environment for Sustainable Development, Glenwood Publishers, Nairobi – 2016.

Paavola, J., “Institutions and Environmental Governance: A Reconceptualization,” Ecological economics, 63, no. 1 (2007): 93-103.

United Nations Environment Programme, “Environmental governance,” available at https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/7935/Environmental_Governance.pdf?sequence=5&isAllowed=y [Accessed on 14/12/2021].

United Nations, Introduction to Environmental Governance, 2017. Available at https://globalpact.informea.org/sites/default/files/documents/International%20Environmental%20Governance.pdf [Accessed on 14/12/2021].

United Nations Environment Programme, The Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1760 UNTS 79; 31 ILM 818 (1992).

United Nations, “Environmental Rule of Law,” available at https://www.unenvironment.org /explore topics/environmental-rights-and-governance/what-we-do/promoting-environmental-rule-law-0 [Accessed on 14/12/2021].

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Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal

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Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania who has sued the Bank for Unlawful Dismissal

Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.

Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.

In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.

He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.

“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.

Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.

He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.

“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.

He wants  further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.

Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.

He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.

He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.

He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands.  He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.

Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.

“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.

He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.

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Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land

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Adrian Radcliffe, the Expatriate Squatter, Evicted from Karen Property by Innocent Purchaser for Value

The Court of Appeal has stayed the decision of the Environment and Land Court purporting to reinstate Adrian Radcliffe into possession of the 5.7 Acre Karen Land by Kena Properties Ltd after eviction by the lawful owners in February 2022. Adrian Radcliffe who was evicted by Kena Properties Ltd, the innocent purchaser of the Land for value.

Before his eviction, Mr. Radcliffe had been living on the land as a squatter expatriate for 33 years without paying any rent. Since he moved into the property as a tenant, he only paid deposit for the land in August 1989 despite corresponding severally with the owner of the land. His attempt to acquire the land by adverse possession claim filed in 2005 was dismissed by Court in 2011 on the basis that he has engaged with the owner of the land July 1997 and agreed to buy the land which he failed to do. The High Court [Justice Kalpana Rawal as she then was] concluded that:

“His [Mr. Adrian Radcliffe] averments that he did not have any idea of the whereabouts of the Defendant and that he could possibly be not alive, were not only very sad but mala fide in view of the correspondence on record addressed by him to the Defendant’s wife. I would thus find that the averments made by him to the contrary are untrue looking to the facts of this case.”

On 10th March 2022, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe and Family purported to obtain court orders for reinstatement into the land. However, the Court of Appeal issued an interim stay of execution of the said orders. The Court of Appeal has now granted the application of Kena Properties Ltd and stayed the execution of the Environment and Land Court Order pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.

The Court also stayed the proceedings at the Environment and Land Court on the matter during the pendency of the Appeal. In effect, the eviction orders issued by the Chief Magistrate Court for eviction of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe in favour of Kena Properties as the purchaser of the property for value were upheld and the company now enjoys unfettered ownership and possession of the suit property until the conclusion of the Appeal.

The Court of Appeal in granting the orders sought by Kena Properties Ltd concurred with Kena Properties Ltd that as the property owner it had an arguable appeal with a high probability of success which would be rendered nugatory if Adrian Radcliffe a trespasser was to resume his unlawful possession of the suit property, erect structures thereon, recklessly use or abuse the said suit property as he deems fit. In any case, that is bound to fundamentally alter the state of the suit property and render it unusable by Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner.

At the same time, the Appellate Court rubbished the argument of Adrian Radcliffe in opposition to the application for stay that he has been in occupation of the suit property for more than 30 years and that he and his family were unlawfully evicted from the suit property on 4th February, 2022. The Court also rejected Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties Ltd has no valid title to the suit property and held that as the purchaser, the company was entitled to enjoy ownership and possession of their property during the pendency of the appeal.

The Court dismissed claims of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe that Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner acquired title to the suit property illegally and unprocedurally finding to the contrary. Further, it rejected Adrian Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties as the purchaser cannot evict a legal occupier of a property putting paid to the claim that he was a legal occupier at the time of eviction.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe cannot claim to be the legal occupier of the property having attempted to acquire it by adverse possession before the High Court thwarted his fraudulent scheme on 28th February 2011. Mr. Radcliffe did not appeal the 2011 High Court decision meaning it is still the law that he is not the owner of the land nor the legal occupier of the land having attempted to adversely acquire against the interests of the lawful owner who sold it to Kena Properties.

Mr. Adrian Radcliffe is a well-to-do Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) UNICEF consultant and former UN employee (who has been earning hefty House Allowance). Many have wondered why he has been defaulting in paying rent for 33 years on the prime plot of land in Karen while living large and taking his kids to most expensive schools in Kenya. No question, a local Kenyan could never have gotten away with such selfish impunity.

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Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1

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The Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 9, Issue No. 1, which is edited by and published by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD is out and stays true to the reputation of the journal in providing a platform for scholarly debate on thematic areas in the fields of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development. The current issue published in September 2022 covers diverse topics including Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in Africa; National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya; Protection of Cultural Heritage During War; The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya; Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya; Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation; Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World; Status of Participation of Women in Mediation; Business of Climate Change and Critical Analysis of World Trade Organization’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment.

Dr. Wilfred A. Mutubwa and Eunice Njeri Ng’ang’a in “Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in an Integrating Africa: An Appraisal of the Role of Regional Arbitration Centres” explore the nature of disputes in the realm of oil and gas in Africa taking a look into the recent continental and sub-regional developments in a bid to establish regional integration. Additionally, it tests the limits of intra-African trade and dispute resolution and the imperatives for the African regional courts and arbitration centres. In “National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua discusses the role played by the National Environment Tribunal (NET) in promoting access to justice and enhancing the principles of sustainable development in Kenya. The paper also highlights challenges facing the tribunal and proposes recommendations towards enhancing the effectiveness of the tribunal.

Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma in “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of War: A Case for History,” argues that cultural heritage is at the heart of human existence and its preservation even in times of war is sacrosanct. It concludes that it is thus critical for states to take positive and tangible steps to ensure environmental conservation and protection during war within the ambit of the existing international legal framework. In “The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya,” Jack Shivugu critically evaluates the role of water in the attainment of sustainable development in Kenya and argues water plays a critical role in the attainment of the sustainable development goals both in Kenya and at the global stage. The paper interrogates some of the water and Sustainable Development concerns in Kenya including water pollution, water scarcity and climate change and suggests practical ways to enhance the role of water in the Sustainable Development agenda.

Dr. Paul Ogendi in “Collective Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya,” reflects on property rights in relation to human biological materials obtained from research participants participating in genomic research. He argues that property rights are crucial in genomic research because they can help avoid exploitation or abuse of such precious material by researchers. In “Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua notes that Wetlands have a vital role in not just delivering ecological services to meet human needs, but also in biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are vital habitat sites for many species and a source of water, both of which contribute to biodiversity protection. The paper examines the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and how these wetland resources might be managed to improve biodiversity conservation.

Oseko Louis D. Obure in “Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World,” preponderance of disputes between States or States and Investors created need for a robust, effective, and efficient mechanisms not only for the resolution of these disputes but also their prevention. He notes that developing states lead in being parties to Investor-State Disputes (ISD) particularly as respondents. He proceeds to conceptualize and problematize investor-state disputes resolution in a fast-paced world. Lilian N.S. Kong’ani and Dr. Kariuki Muigua in “Status of Participation of Women in Mediation: A case Study of Development Project Conflict in Olkaria IV, Kenya” review the status of participation of women in mediation to resolve conflicts between KenGen and the community. The paper demonstrates a need for further democratization of the mediation processes to cater for more participation of women to enhance the mediation results and offer more sustainable resolutions.

Felix Otieno Odhiambo and Melinda Lorenda Mueni in “The Business of Climate Change: An Analysis of Carbon Trading in Kenya analyses the business of carbon trading in the context of Kenya’s legal framework. The article examines the legal framework that underpins climate change into the Kenyan legal system and provides an exposition of the concept of carbon trading and its various forms. Michael Okello, in “Critical Analysis of World Trade Organisation’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment: Prospects, Challenges and Emerging Trends in the 21st Century,” highlights the rationale behind MFN treatment and also restates the vision of multilateral trade to achieve equitable and special interventions with respect to trade in goods, services and trade related intellectual property rights in the affected states.

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