Remarks by UNDP Kenya RR Walid Badawi at the Annual National Stakeholder Conference

December 15, 2021

UNDP Kenya RR Walid Badawi virtually delivers his remarks at the Annual National Stakeholder Conference

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  • Representative from the Private Sector,
  • Representative from Academia, here represented by Prof. Gituro Wainaina (who refuses to play squash with me) and Prof. Nyanoti
  • Representatives from the Parliamentary Caucus on SDGs and business
  • Senior Government officials and National Government officers present
  • Representatives from Council of Governors and County Government Present
  • UN colleagues and Development Partners present
  • The Media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure on behalf of UNDP to join you, albeit virtually, on the occasion of this SDGs annual forum which UNDP has regularly supported, to take stock of progress in 2021 and set the agenda for 2022. Indeed, the people of the world find themselves in unfamiliar waters and a challenging environment when it comes to human development due to the effects of COVID-19. Since measurement began in 1990, Human Development declined for the first time, due to the pandemic.

Therefore, the theme of this conference on Sustainable and Resilient Recovery: Accelerating the implementation of the SDGs in the Decade of Action MUST be central to the work and engagements of ALL who are present and represented here.

We are well aware that the SDGs are the world’s signature Development Framework which rallies ALL stakeholders from the Global Level to the Grassroots to eradicate poverty and improve the human condition, protect the planet, and set it on a clear path of sustainability and peace while LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND.

In 2018, through its landmark UN reform resolution 72/279, the United Nations General Assembly elevated the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) to be the overarching tool for UN Agencies at the country level to support countries to achieve the SDGs. In Kenya, the current UNDAF (2018-2022), which is aligned to the Medium-Term Plan III of the Kenya Vision 2030 is premised on three strategic pillars: Transformational Governance, Human Capital Development and Sustainable and Inclusive Growth which aim to accelerate progress towards the SDGs in the country.

As we now approach the end of the current UNDAF cycle, we are proud of the many achievements that the country has registered with support from the UN family thanks to generous support from our development partners and the solid partnership enjoyed with many of you, the stakeholders in this room. From upholding human rights and gender equality, to ensuring access to justice, devolution and sustaining peace, to improving education and health systems, expanding social protection to the most vulnerable, while responding to emergent crises like COVID 19, locusts, floods and drought, to greening Kenya, addressing climate change and building resilience and supporting MSMEs, and enhancing agricultural productivity, the UN in Kenya has been part of this development journey. 

As a key member of the UN family, and in partnership with State Department of Planning, UNDP supported the country to develop the National COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy and the County Level Socio-economic Re-engingeering and Recovery Strategy which identify measures to be undertaken in key sectors to Build Forward Better. By supporting three strategic directions of change of structural transformation, leaving no one behind and building resilience, UNDP will seek to ensure reduction in poverty and inequalities, improve governance in public institutions, build resilience to shocks learning from COVID-19, enhance environmental sustainability and use of renewable and clean energy and achieve gender parity in Kenya as part of its next Country Programme.

UNDP has also been supporting the domestication of the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) as recommended by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The initial step of the INNF which is the Diagnostic Stage popularly known as the Development Finance Assessment Report has been completed. Some Key findings showed that despite being a Lower Middle-Income Country, domestic resource mobilisation accounted for 18% of GDP below the World Bank recommended average of 22%. The Private Sector financing for development has also been falling. Therefore, ALL development stakeholders MUST augment their contribution with the Civil Society Organisations/NGOs, Parliamentarians and the Media amplifying their ADVOCACY role to match past years levels. Development Partners must also take note of the DUALISM exhibited by the Kenya Economy in their development cooperation framework. The Academia needs to actively research and provide innovations and policy options for the Implementers while the Government is expected to continue taking the central role in development by Continuously Improving Governance especially in light of the elections next year, leading the Socio-Economic Transformation, prioritising Climate Action and making the country conducive for investments from the private sector by fostering stability.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the adoption by UN Member States of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, Kenya moved from a Low Income Country (LIC) to a Lower-Middle Income Country (LMIC). In addition, the country has grown to be the 6th Largest economy in Africa. The country’s Human Development Index also increased from 0.482 in 1990 to 0.601 in 2019. The ease of doing business in the country improved from a rank of 68 in 2018 to 56 in 2019. Kenya is recognized as a hotbed of innovation on the the continent and it has been a front runner in the domestication of Agenda 2030 through its Kenya Road Map and has presented two Voluntary National Reviews in 2017 and 2020 The country is committed to the 2030 Agenda having led the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development and it remains on a firm path to achieve the SDGs targets and Indicators. 

However, despite this notable progress, the country still faces many challenges including high income inequality, regional disparities, gender gaps and AGGRAVATED climate change risks

Economically, Kenya’s public sector expansionary fiscal stance, is crowding out private investment and curtailing productivity growth and impeding the capability of the state to respond with more supportive and longer-term stimulus interventions. Whereas micro, small and medium enterprises contribute about 34% to GDP and also employ over 80% of the workforce in Kenya, they are constrained by challenges in the business ecosystem and access to finance and credit, receiving only 5.6% of their capital from Commercial Banks. Again, the country’s manufacturing sector has stagnated over the years with its share of GDP remaining constant at 9% for more than a decade and declining to 7.7% in 2019. The One Million Youth Focussed jobs envisaged under the Big Four cannot be realised with the falling contribution of the manufacturing sector and agro-processing industries.

Although land is one of Kenya’s most important natural capital assets, bureaucratic inefficiencies and insecure tenure arrangements impede land market efficiency. Jugstaposing a gender lens, we find that women make up only 5% of registered private freehold landowners.

Urban poverty is increasing, and it is mainly concentrated in the informal settlements with nearly 33% of slum residents poor, compared to just 9% outside slum areas. In addition, droughts, floods, and other “natural” disasters are becoming so recurrent and almost predictable – particularly in the ASALs counties. Climate action and adaptation in Kenya needs to take place and be in the context of accelerating socio-economic transformation, ensuring a net zero emissions environment, and adapting to irreversible climate crisis effects. The sustainable development challenge there will depend crucially on measures to build resilience and climate adaptation as clearly highlighted both in Glasgow as well as the recently concluded 7th Annual Devolution Conference in Makueni.

Using its convening role, global foresight and value proposition, the UN System in Kenya will therefore seek to support the design and implementation of strategic interventions such as technical assistance, capacity building, leveraging partnerships and resources, advocacy, social mobilisation, brokering knowledge and catalytic innovations especially in digitisation of social services. The UN system will also support both the National and County Governments in strengthening Intergovernmental Cooperation and increasing the efficiency of service delivery in the COVID-19 era.

It is in this connection that the UN in Kenya has embarked on a consultative process with Government and other stakeholders, to develop the next United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF). The Framework will replace the current UNDAF and will translate the vision of the country into the UN development system efforts to make it more agile and equipped to achieve the transformative results that UN Member States are demanding. It will incorporate the findings of the evaluation of the UNDAF (2018- 2022), the development challenges identified in the Common Country Analysis, a detailed LNOB analysis and will be aligned with Vision 2030, the Medium-Term Plan IV and other national development priorities.

The New UNSDCF will be anchored around the 5 Ps of the SDGs and will be premised on 5 key outcomes First, ensuring ALL people in Kenya have access to inclusive and transformative democratic governance, justice, respect for the rule of law, peace, security, and social cohesion. Secondly, ALL people have access to quality social services, social protection, and effective, inclusive, and accountable institutions. Thirdly, people in Kenya have access to sustainable, diversified and environmentally/climate-sensitive quality livelihoods and enjoy growth that is inclusive, resilient, green and equitable and that delivers decent jobs and quality livelihoods. Fourthly, ALL people live in communities and have access to institutions that are sustainably managing natural resources and engaging actively and successfully in the “Green Transition”. Lastly, the UNSDCF will prepare the country’s SDGs implementation strategy to be propelled by innovation, digital disruption, and breakthrough partnerships that converge public and private financing, domestic and international, and align them to sustainable development and Kenya’s national priorities.

As we ALL redouble our efforts to accelerate action on the SDGs, the UN System in Kenya, working within the UNSDCF, will be governed by the Joint Steering Committee co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning, the Caninet Secretary for Devolution and the UN Resident Coordinator (RC). Other development partners, international financial institutions, civil society, academia and research institutions and the private sector will also collaborate in this new Framework. It is envisaged that the UNSDCF will be operationalised after national ownership and accountability to the host government and the people. Its implementation and monitoring will further be aligned with the national SDG Indicators framework.

In conclusion, the robust discussions, deliberations and resolutions from this conference will be of great value to all development actors in Kenya in the next medium-term development cycle. It will provide us with a solid basis for re-configuring the UN system’s fitness to deliver the agreed results.

I wish you fruitful deliberations during the Conference and you can count on UN/UNDP to be a dependable and trusted partner, collaborator, and supporter as we play our part in Ending Poverty, Bettering the Human Condition and Securing the Planet.