Transforming the UNEP Governance Structure: The Role of the Kenya Permanent Mission to the United Nations Environment Programme
The Project traced the activities of the Kenya Mission to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) over a period of seven years from 2007 to 2013. This was a time when the issue of strengthening the governing structure of UNEP became a matter of crucial importance for the Programme. UNEP, is a particularly strategic resource for the government of Kenya. The establishment of UNEP emerged out of an atmosphere characterised by suspicions and doubts of states of the necessity of a United Nations body, which would address the international environmental agenda. Environmental concerns were of little significance to states at the time. While developed countries did not want a powerful organisation within the United Nations, developing countries were hesitant to give priority to environment, when they had more pressing development challenges. The location of UNEP in Kenya came as a strategic necessity, to convince developing countries of the significance of environmental concerns. As the first and one of only two UN headquarters in a developing country, the development galvanised states from the South as they defended its location in Nairobi. Kenya seized that opportunity. UNEP became a remarkable success over time. One of its most important achievements was converting environment into a global issue. It became a focal point in the UN on the matter, the environmental conscience. However, with its success came the tensions of control of an institution, which was dealing with what had become one of the most important global concerns. Developed countries even openly expressed support for a brand new Global Environmental Organisation, with the implication of uprooting it from the ―inconvenient location‖. The evolutionary process of the transformation the governance structure of UNEP from a limited membership to universal membership, also a precedent in the UN system. It turned out to be a long drawn out process, and the political will by states to strengthen UNEP was lacking. It was therefore, a matter of interest to examine what the role of the Kenya Mission to UNEP played to ensure that the reform efforts in UNEP, to be a champion promote national interests, and more broadly make a contribution for Africa, to influence international decision-making, particularly on the matter of international environmental agenda. The effective use of the available capacity to by the Kenya Mission was analysed in the paper. The case study relied mainly on document analysis, of the recordings of the Governing Council throughout the period when the matter of strengthening UNEP was constantly on the agenda of the annual session, and was a highly contentious issue, during the multilateral negotiations. The UNEP repository was a source of a wealth of information. Documents from UNEP and bulletins that detailed the proceedings of the Governing Council, gave insight on the participation of Kenya and all states categorised within regional groups. The research method involved identifying in all the documents on the coverage of the issue of international environmental governance, especially with regard to transformation of UNEP. The different state actors from the UN regional groups were tabulated, the frequency of participation, and where possible, records of the active participation in the meetings and their stated positions noted and analysed. Indications of alliances between the different regional groups or individual states were documented. In particular, the participation of the Kenya Mission is documented. The investigation found that the Kenya Mission could have utilised its capacity more effectively to champion national interests and African states interests. The Kenya Mission should have a repository, a source of knowledge. The Mission needs to utilise existing research better, and take steps to include the abundant skilled stakeholders available locally such as scientists, academics and lawmakers enrich its contribution as it engages in multilateral negotiations and thus be more effective. Building capacity needs to include supporting young people for the future. The Kenya Mission, given its unique status, has to be more pro-active in working to build and foster intergovernmental consensus within Africa on priority concerns in relation to activities in UNEP.
The following license files are associated with this item: