Resident Repsentative Walid Badawi and Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Mr. Najib Balala at the Launch of Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan, Amboseli National Park Plan and Tourism in Amboseli National Park.

Greetings.

A hard day at the office this has been so far!

I am delighted to be here with all of you today, as we launch the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan, Amboseli National Park Plan and the opening of rehabilitated park facilities.

When I was here in late 2019, I just shuttled in and out of a Meeting hosted within the park but was not fortunate to engage with the conservation partners, with whom UNDP has since 2015 supported through the “Enhancing Wildlife Conservation in the Productive Southern Kenya Rangelands through a Landscape Approach” project.

The implementation of this Project, funded by the Global Environment facility (GEF) through UNDP has since 2015 provided catalytic funding approximately USD 4 million  in support of principal project partners including Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT), African Conservation Centre (ACC), Big Life Foundation (BLF) and the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I take this opportunity to recognize the critical role and efforts of our partners in strengthening the involvement of local communities in the management of the natural resources within the Amboseli ecosystem. The resource governance models such as the land-use planning (secured wildlife dispersal areas and connectivity corridors between the Amboseli and Tsavo West Parks/Chyulu Hills) and wildlife compatible livelihoood initiatives (improvement of livestock breed; pasture management and eco-tourism) that brought together communities and conservation agencies continues to reinforce conversation as a potential land-use option for communities.

Over the five-year period the project sought to address the emerging threats, of conflicting interests between conservation and development, that arose from the improved transport infrastructure, human population growth, human settlements expansion, and expanding agricultural land use that could lead to the loss of animal dispersal areas, migratory corridors and drought refugia.

It has been exciting and enlightening to witness our programmatic interventions in action. Earlier this morning I had a great and rare opportunity to witness the collaring of the Masai Giraffe. UNDP is honored to be part of this process that will enable gathering of crucial information and data to guide wildlife conservation and decision making

I also wish to acknowledge USAID for their complementary support to these actions.

Bwana Waziri and our esteemed partners,

Today’s launch of the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP) and the Amboseli National Park Plan is a crowning moment. The plans illustrate the commitment of the partners, that Amboseli remains a prime and viable ecosystem for wildlife while safeguarding the livelihoods of communities for the next 10 years.

I commend our partners who actively engaged the development of the plan and for the key considerations made such as the identification of the minimal viable area for wildlife populations, livelihood needs of communities and the county and national development agenda; that have informed the ecosystem zonation and proposed land use options.  These recommendations are backed up by information from over 50-years of research, on the dynamics of wildlife in the Amboseli landscape, and the evolution in human settlement activity and agriculture over the past decade.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Eco-tourism not only provides a source of livelihood for the majority of Kenyans, it also is responsible for the protection, conservation and management of the environment and natural resources. It is now upon us to mobilise and deliver the ambition of the plans – the future will not be as forgiving, should we lose this cultural heritage and biodiversity.

UNDP acknowledges the critical importance of synergy between the national government and the county governments to ensure seamless implementation of the strategies and guidelines that are known to work. It is my hope that these plans, in particular, the AEMP will form part of and indeed inform the Kajiado County Spatial Plan. Especially in view of the implementation of the Community Land Act 2019, so that the current group ranches that are critical for wildlife population health can continue to provide space for wildlife.

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected several sectors of the economy including tourism, putting people’s jobs and livelihoods at risk. We must therefore be bold and ambitious in our interventions that will build future resilience – and do it better and greener.  Our programme here indeed heeded the call by H.E. The President, Mr. Uhurru Kenyatta, when he announced in May 2020 the 54B KES economic stimulus plan to restore and rehabilitate tourism and related facilities.

As we usher in the implementation of these plans – let us reflect on the current context and lessons that will support the coordination and operationalisation of the strategies including monitoring, reporting and evaluation. These will facilitate appropriate levels of resource mobilisation and sustainable delivery of the proposed interventions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know that there is still much to be done to fully secure Kenya’s wildlife. UNDP is ready to support the Government at National and County levels through resource mobilization, innovative financing strategies including Public Private Partnerships, and leveraging on south-south and triangular cooperation.

On behalf of UNDP, let me commend the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kajiado County Government, as well as the support from all the other partners for the critical roles played in the demonstrated partnership in the management and protection of wildlife and community livelihoods in the Amboseli Ecosystem.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Kenya for the successful Campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council which is premised on the sustainable development agenda, having championed the creation of the SDGs and their adoption in 2015. I also applaud Kenya, the only country in the global south, that hosts 2 global UN HQs, namely, the United Nations Environment Programme and UNHABITAT, and for keeping its tradition of being a global leader in sustainable development, and for the notable commitment as a champion for climate action.

Tomorrow the UN secretary general will convene a climate ambition summit where some Heads of State are expected to be making statements to express renewed commitment to raising their levels of NDC ambition. We are proud to see H.E. President Kenyatta, once again take the platform and to be one of those leaders to express Kenya’s increased climate ambition as part of its NDC update, which we have also been privileged to support.

UNDP is committed to accompanying the Government and people of Kenya in designing and delivering interventions that will accelerate Kenya’s own development agenda and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals – for the people and the planet.  For it is ingrained in the way we operate as UNDP that we ensure that the government is always in the driver’s seat when delivering context specific development outcomes.

Thank you for your hospitality. I look forward to my return to the Amboseli to enjoy the great escape from Nairobi!

Asanteni.

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Project summary

The Government of Kenya has made significant investments in most protected areas (PAs) in the country. However, despite the high returns from wildlife based tourism and the large baseline of investment in protected area management in Kenya, conflicting interests between conservation and development persist in the greater Amboseli landscape, where the ecological viability of the PA estate to sustain healthy populations of wildlife is threatened by loss of animal dispersal areas, migratory corridors and drought refugia.

The greater Amboseli landscape is part of the Maasai lands of the Southern Kenya rangelands where communities continue to experience conservation in terms of protectionism and a segregation approach-- contrary to their preferred approach of integration of people and nature--to deliver both development and conservation benefits. The long-term solution proposed by this project is to conserve the Amboseli landscape’s threatened species and habitats, and especially the charismatic elephants and expansive swamps, and simultaneously promote sustainable development of the ecosystem for the benefit of the present and future generations.

The Amboseli landscape has little arable potential, but it has enormous national and global heritage and tourism value, which PAs alone cannot secure in the long term. The solution to the conservation challenge lies in embracing a landscape approach to conservation and development, allowing the ecosystem to provide a broad range of benefits and services to the broad range of interests dependent on it, including wildlife, pastoralists, off-site communities (water) and indeed the environment. This will only be achieved if there is meaningful involvement of the local communities in the landscape approach, given the better legacy of coexistence over millennia of joint use of the land.

This proposed project in the Greater Amboseli landscape in Kenya satisfies the requirements for GEF financing under GEF Biodiversity Focal Area, Strategic Objective one: Improve sustainability of Protected Area systems and two; Mainstream biodiversity, conservation and sustainable use into production landscapes. It will provide a resource governance model that allows communities and conservationists to utilise revitalised skills, and, guided by a knowledge based landscape planning, take advantage of modified policies and market based incentives to balance resource use and resource conservation across the greater Amboseli, to secure a broader range of benefits for the onsite and offsite dependents, in a more equitable and sustainable manner.

The project partners (Kenya Wildlife Service, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, African Conservation Centre, and Big Life Foundation) will, according to designated roles and responsibilities; support national efforts to secure conservancy management, set up a series of conservancies across the landscape, map out and secure wildlife dispersal areas, secure connectivity corridors between the core PAs of Amboseli, Tsavo and Chyulu Hills, to offer greater protection of selected species (GEF BD SO 1). The partners will also catalyse a shift from the current sector-focused planning to a more integrated land use planning system; thus increasing productivity of livestock and agriculture while protecting environmental services, including the watershed services of the Chyulu Hills (GEF BD SO2).

The project comprises of three complementary components, which will be cost-shared by the GEF and co-financing. Each addresses a different barrier and has discrete outcomes and are defined as follows:

  • Component 1: Effective governance framework for multiple use and threat removal outside PAs.
  • Component 2: Landscape based multiple use/management delivers multiple benefits to the widest range of users, reducing threats to wildlife from outside the ecosystem.
  • Component 3: Increased benefits from tourism shared more equitably.
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