Statement by RR Walid Badawi at the Launch of the Forestry Business Sustainable Action Plan

November 29, 2021

Launch of the Forestry Sustainability Action Plan Report. Photo by KAM

Let me begin by expressing my sincere pleasure at joining this important meeting today as we launch KAM’s Forestry Business Sustainable Action Plan.  The meeting is very timely as it comes just days after the conclusion of the Commercial Forestry Investment Conference organized by KEFRI (November 23-26), DEVCON7 on climate action, and COP26. The Forestry Business Sustainable Action Plan is an attempt to build the foundations for future sustainable development and investment in forestry in the country.

Therefore, UNDP is privileged to add its voice to that of other forestry sector actors, including investors, wood processors and researchers in commercial forestry, to advance the vision that UNDP affirmed during the 30th anniversary of our flagship Human Development Report (HDR 2020) under the theme: The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene, that seeks to temper human development with the easing of planetary pressures based on a three-pronged approach: equity, innovation, and stewardship.

In February 2020, we were preparing for a courtesy visit to the KAM CEO Phylis Wakiaga, which was never to be because of the onslaught of COVID-19. Though belated, this launch today fulfils an old desire, but the debt remains unpaid as UNDP and KAM will still need to meet to align thoughts and efforts on the nature of our collaboration going forward.

UNDP like other actors, launched its initial COVID-19 offer in March 2020, that supported Kenya to strengthen its healthcare system and reduce the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic for the vulnerable and marginalised members of our community. Working with the national and county governments, UNDP helped to mobilise resources and supported the development of digital solutions, rolled out the national strategy for business continuity, information dissemination and advanced accountability mechanisms in response to the pandemic.

Some of the main outcomes from this initial support was the development of the country’s Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS, 2020-2022) as well as the County Level Socio Economic Re-engineering and Recovery Strategy. These strategies are pegged on Kenya’s determination to Build-Forward-Better and Greener, and draws on UNDP’s global experience; the strategies are practical in their aspiration of growth opportunities that maintain a balance between people and planet, providing fit-for-purpose strategies and advocate for de-risking of nature-based solutions while responding to Kenya’s pressing challenge of youth unemployment. 

Traditionally, UNDP works with the private sector, in two ways: private sector development and private sector engagement. Both aim to increase the contribution of micro-, small, and medium sized enterprises to growth and poverty reduction, as well foster partnerships with a wide range of companies.

UNDP’s work with the private sector can be organized around 3 mutually-reinforcing “Cs”: Catalysing, Convening, and Capitalising. These are based on the experience and expertise that UNDP has and can build on, in partnership with others, for it to be relevant to its stakeholders and maximise opportunities for the SDGs. I do believe that this modus operandi will come to bear in the implementation of the Forestry Business Sustainable Action Plan.

Central to this strategy is the acknowledgement that private sector is not only key to poverty reduction, but also to achieving wider corporate objectives in the areas of energy and environmental service delivery, crisis prevention and recovery and democratic governance.

In line with its catalysing strength, the launch of this Action Plan takes place against the backdrop of an important UNDP undertaking in 2020. Through our flagship initiative SDG Impact, UNDP in Kenya supported the development of market intelligence information called SDG Investor Maps. These maps have delineated potential opportunities areas that are amenable to private sector investment in Kenya and have the potential to impact on the SDGs. 13 Investment Opportunities Areas (IOAs) emerged, providing comprehensive business and impact case data that investors and enterprises (both domestic and foreign) can rely on to align investments in support of local SDG priorities in Kenya. I encourage you to visit our SDG Investor maps platform online to learn more about these IOAs.

With our convening strength, UNDP is supporting the development of the country’s national REDD+ strategy. Among other things, the strategy calls for scaling up afforestation, reforestation, and landscape restoration programmes for livelihood improvement, as well as increasing productivity of public plantation forests. It targets the public plantation forests to maximise the productivity of these public commercial forests to avail wood resources for construction and industrial purposes while allowing effective participation of the private sector and communities.

With our capitalising role, UNDP recognises that Kenya as a developing country has limited budgetary allocations for the forest sector. While noting government commitment towards an enhanced resource envelope to stimulate the sector, the need to strengthen systems for investment attraction and channelling of investors into the sector based on research and commercial needs is clear. Therefore, this Action Plan provides a robust framework to tap on private sector resources and catapult the sector. This is UNDP’s rationale for the partnership with KEFRI in support to the Commercial Forestry Investment Conference in the country and the emphasis we placed on strengthening youth engagement in the discourse last week to create opportunities for young people to create sustainable livelihoods in a sector that has largely seen the absence of young people in it. This was the motivation for our GrEYAP programme which is well underway now with the State Department of Youth Affairs and the MEF.

UNDP is no stranger to partnership with KAM members. The private sector has been an ally in Kenya’s development journey through platforms such as the Business Call to Action (BCtA) that aimed to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and more recently re-orienting the engagement towards supporting sustainable and inclusive growth and accelerating economic recovery with an emphasis on job creation.

More recently, UNDP is re-enacting its commitment to partner with private sector and support the implementation of the new MSE policy through partnership with Micro and Small Enterpsries Authority (MSEA). This partnership recognises the challenge of effective and efficient coordination and formalizdation of MSEs. UNDP will continue to support institutions that provide accessible, affordable, and quality infrastructure services for MSEs growth and development, through such initiatives as Biashara Centres, among others.

UNDP recognises the importance of unlocking climate finance flows to support Kenya’s efforts in climate adaptation and mitigation and specifically, support towards the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Tree Growing Fund, which aims at mobilising over 2 billion good quality seedlings for Kenya’s re-afforestation efforts.

UNDP in partnership with UNEP, FAO, UNCDF and in close partnership with the Government of Kenya are making bold steps towards a global fund utilising the fiduciary standards of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund headquartered in New York to help the country mobilise over US$ 45 Million that will help the country secure over 1.2 billion good quality seeds, enact a robust innovative forestry finance scheme, strengthen Kenya’s forestry governance and roll out a robust tree growing campaign that will help the country meet the commitment by H.E. the President on the 10% forest cover by the year 2022.

We remain committed to continue leveraging on UNDP’s comparative strengths and partnerships, particularly its ability to influence policies and legal/institutional frameworks, as well as ability to introduce new and cutting-edge concepts to strengthen institutions through south-south cooperation. UNDP’s commitment to innovation, equity and stewardship can be demonstrated through the Accelerator Lab that taps on the collective intelligence of various actors to conjure new ways for local solutions.

I wish KAM success in the implementation of the Forestry Business Sustainable Action Plan!