Driven by its commitment to amplify the contribution of young Africans of faith toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in this case SDGs 14 and 17 on life under water and building of sustainable partnerships to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) was invited by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the first ever Project Inception and Theory of Change workshop on IUCN’s Marine plastics & Coastal Communities (MARPLASTICCs) initiative in Kenya on September 3rd-4th.
The aim of the workshop that was co-hosted by IUCN and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) was to “concretely advance project strategy and prioritization at the national level through developing the project’s theory of change.” In pursuit of this objective, the workshop relied on the theory of change approach to elaborate the MARPLASTICCs project jointly with national stakeholders that could potentially be engaged in implementation of the MARPLASTICCs. The rationale was to engage the national stakeholders in streamlined dialogue in order to develop a common and shared vision of the project.
Applying the Theory of Change, Julien Colomer, a monitoring and learning officer at IUCN, led the participants in conceptualizing the project within its four main components, which include knowledge, policy, business and capacities. After defining a long-term workable vision for plastic pollution to the marine environment in Kenya, coined around the reduction of plastic pollution in the marine environment, the participants identified different critical building blocks and stakeholders whose active involvement would contribute to the success of the project. In the process, several gaps such as lack of a definitive national policy on marine plastic pollution and inadequate data and data management systems on plastics in the country emerged. Consistent with the draft implementation plan, which was one of the key outcomes of the workshop, the gaps were integrated as tasks that would inform the development of the project over its 3-year period ending in 2020 within Kenya.
The uniqueness of the workshop stakeholder composition at the workshop was the diversity in terms of national authorities such as NEMA, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), business partners such as the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Community-Based Organizations like the Watamu Community Waste Management and Recycling Enterprises, academia such as the University of Nairobi and International NGOs such as CYNESA. Besides its unique multi-stakeholder engagement approach, MARPLASTICCs is designed to mainly target preventive upstream measures to counter plastic pollution through contributing to improved understanding on the state and impact of plastic pollution, capacity building to facilitate national action, support to national and regional policy frameworks and legislative reform processes, and engaging and mobilising business actors in support of effective management and reduction of plastic pollution.
This MARPLASTICCs approach is well aligned with the anti-plastic-pollution activities that CYNESA has been engaging in both at grassroots and policy development at national and international levels. In 2017, CYNESA held the first ever Multi-Faith Women Faith Leaders’ Advocacy Training on Proper Waste Management and Disposal in Mombasa County where it launched its #UnbottleMyEvent initiative. The initiative is about refusing disposable plastic bottled water in preference for common water points and reusable water bottles. As an accredited Major Group and Stakeholder to the UN Environment, CYNESA has also been involved in international policy development like Resolution 3/7 of the Third United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA3) on marine litter plastic pollution and the subsequent First Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group that was held from 29 to 31 May 2018 at the UN Regional Headquarters for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya and reached numerous important outcomes.
This complex and ambitious program dubbed MARPLASTICCs is a collaboration by IUCN and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) implemented in two regions and five countries including Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam, and that CYNESA is committed to and will continue supporting.
David N. Munene – CYNESA Programs Manager.