National REDD+ Academy training events use the methodology and expertise codified in the UN-REDD Programme’s REDD+ Academy curriculum to build capacity and understanding for key stakeholders on REDD+ implementation through a long-term, sustainable learning experience, adapted to the specific circumstances of each country. Experiences in other countries have shown that training stakeholders in REDD+ presents an opportunity to build capacity and accelerated implementation. Kenya hosted the National Academy in November, 2019 with over 63 participants, of which 29 were women and 34 men. Included were representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs), indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities, Kenyan government ministries and agencies (national and county levels), constitutional commissions and research and academic institutions.
UNDP, jointly with UNEP and FAO, increased and reinforced the capacities of stakeholders as Trainers of Trainers (ToTs), as they play a vital role in the conservation and sustainable management of forests. Further, key stakeholders such as indigenous peoples and forest community dwellers possess traditional knowledge that will eventually contribute to the REDD+ process, in particular with conservation and biodiversity. The TOTs will be called upon to provide training and deliver courses on REDD+ to other stakeholder groups as needed. As such, after the training every institution is responsible for developing a training plan on how to deliver the REDD+ training to their respective constituencies.
In her opening remarks, the Principal Secretary for Environment, Betty Maina, said, “We [Kenya] have been undertaking forest related activities for a long time, but a lot of us have been aware that a lot of these strategies haven’t worked as intended. And therefore, it is important as we deliver a new strategy [National REDD+ Strategy] that we begin to think about how to do things differently.”
National Project Coordinator for the REDD+ Readiness Project, Alfred Gichu, added: “As a country, we made a commitment to contribute to the global agenda on climate change response.”
Through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Kenyan government has implemented mechanisms and incentives to manage and sustainably conserve forests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to meet national targets, including increasing forest cover to 10%, as stipulated in the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).
The REDD+ Academy has been widely covered in the press and on social media, which led to increased visibility of the REDD+ Academy in Kenya and its calls for urgent collective action to combat climate change and its impacts. It also reinforced the UNDP’s commitment to Kenya in tackling climate change issues. As Walid Badawi, the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya stated, “Climate change, as you know, presents the most compelling development challenges of our day. The recent climate summit in New York served to amplify the message of urgency that climate change is the defining issue of our time.” “When I came to this REDD+ Academy, I had several expectations. I want to be equipped with information that will help me from a governance perspective that is to be able to advise on the issue of governance on the REDD+ process,” said Susan Kinyeki (Participant)
Since the REDD+ Academy, two additional trainings have taken place, one by the Council of Governors for Chief Officers and the other by the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) Commissioners for its senior staff. So far, 147 participants have been trained on the REDD+ process from these two trainings, with attention given to engagement with indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities.
Representatives of indigenous people who participated in the training shared their personal experiences from the event: “My expectation was to learn new things and to get more ideas about what REDD+ is,” said Milka Chepko, Women’s Representative for the Sengwer Indigenous People. “I had not really gotten information about the national forest management system or the REDD+ financing system which I came to here learn. I didn’t know what to expect, but I am happy with the experience and the knowledge I acquired. Specifically, I learned a lot about FREL and the REDD+ Investment Plan.”
“To indigenous people, specifically in Kenya, the REDD+ Academy has addressed many pertinent issues, specifically the understanding of indigenous people in Kenya,” said Elijah Toirai, Indigenous People Representative – Pastoralist.
The REDD+ Academy is a coordinated REDD+ capacity development initiative to deliver REDD+ on the ground and empower potential REDD+ champions with the requisite knowledge and skills to promote the implementation of national REDD+ activities, a critical delivery tool for countries engaged in the REDD+ readiness phase. The Ministry of Environment, in partnership with UNDP, is now implementing the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) REDD+ Readiness Project in Kenya which aims to support the country’s efforts to pursue long-term, transformative development and accelerate sustainable climate resilient economic growth. The REDD+ Readiness Project is supporting the government with the Greening Initiative, increasing tree growth and meeting national targets of 10% and more forest cover.