The Parliamentary Caucus on Sustainable Development Goals and Business is an Association of Parliamentarians convened at the beginning of the 12th Parliament pursuant to Parliament Standing Order 259, with the purpose of promoting Sustainable Development and Social Responsive Business through legislation, representation, oversight and partnerships. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030, are 17 Global Goals for development which came after the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As the elected representatives of their people, parliamentarians have a critical role to play in driving forward people-centered development that is reflective of and responsive to the needs of their constituents. In recent decades, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of engaging parliamentarians in efforts to advance environmentally-sensitive, inclusive growth and sustainable development. Through their constitutional mandates, for example, in making laws and overseeing government policies and programs, including enacting and scrutinizing the government budget and representing the views of their constituents, parliamentarians are valuable partners in ensuring the accountable, inclusive, participatory and transparent governance that is necessary to achieve sustainable development for all.
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) is a German Foundation that supports the Rule of Law, Democracy and Policies across different states in the World, Kenya being one of them. In their work, Elizabeth and Associates Advocates consults for KAS as Environment Law specialists.
PURPOSE OF THE RETREAT AND PARTICIPANTS
KAS Country Office visited Parliament on the 14th of March 2018 and had a meeting with the Members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Sustainable Development Goals and Business. What came out of this meeting was the planning of a retreat in Maasai Mara on the 8th–10th May to explore areas of synergy for partnerships and future collaboration. The Maasai Mara retreat would be sponsored by KAS. The retreat would consist of conference meetings, camping and nature trail walk tour in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy that would be seeking to highlight the importance of Social and Ecological Conservation of Environment in the German context. Few Members from the Narok County Assembly and locals would be expected to join us on the morning of the second day and leave in the evening of that same day. The retreat was aimed at:
- Fostering a partnership between KAS and the SDGs and Business Caucus
- Defining tasks for the partnership
- Drafting an MOU on the identified areas of Partnership.
- Creating awareness on social ecological economy in the German context.
- Highlighting best practices on Environment Sustainability.
DAY 1 OF THE WORKSHOP
- KAS explained that their office was keen on promoting Social and Ecological Market Economies which is free but socially responsible as in the German Context. There is need to ensure that businesses do not leave an impact that will negatively affect future generations.
- KAS expressed their interest to streamline social responsibility in partnership with the Parliamentary SDGs and Business Caucus in the next four-year term to streamline SDGs through Capacity Building and training, creation of awareness on SDGs at local level, creation of policies and promoting responsive business that is socially sustainable for future generations.
- KAS explained that SDGs are interlinked and addresses cross cutting issues from Economic, Social, Environmental and Political aspects and thus needed a holistic approach
- Dr Gideon Ochanda explained that the caucus was keen on coming up with a Bills Digest legal team to help audit and address gaps in legislations for SDGs realization.
- He also stated that there was need to make the SDGS known at local level through the roles of Parliamentarians so that they are appreciated and driven by the local residents.
- He indicated that the Caucus was in the process of developing its Strategic Plan which would inform a lot of our activities between 2018 and 2022 and that the training on environment sustainability that was part of the retreat agenda had come at the right time.
- Affirmative action was also an area of interest for the various Women Representatives. they stated the need for Gender equality for the realization of SDGs as well as Economic Empowerment for Women and realization of more elective seats for women. Further, it was indicated that there is a gap in mentorships and Media Training for the women in pursuit of leadership and if this was improved then a lot of women would be able to clinch elective positions in the country.
- Members also stated that there was need to conduct trainings around sustainable farming as a means to poverty eradication and to end hunger while creating jobs for the constituents they serve. There are many ways we can maximize on the use of our Natural Resources for the good of current and future generations
- It was proposed that the caucus comes up with a steering committee to drive the high level negotiations and for goodwill interventions, with members proposing the inclusion of Ambassador Macharia Kamau to that Committee
- The caucus stated that an SDGs National Engagement Framework was being developed to ease the engagement of different stakeholders in addressing the issues on SDGs.
DAY 2 KEY HIGHLIGHTS
- Youth agenda was discussed. How best to involve them in decision making while mentoring them to take up future leadership was a gap identified.
- Parliamentarians were urged to use their Legislative roles to influence the enactment of laws geared towards SDGs.
- Further among the roles Members of Parliament would improve on is maximization on the use of funds within their allocations such as the Constituency Development Fund and the Affirmative Action Fund for modification to serve SDGs Agenda..
- It was proposed that there was need to have working solutions and strategies to address the issue of social responsibilities in our Business Sector.
- An example of a workable strategy was said to be the use of Tax Rebate to organizations and businesses who are socially responsible to encourage the same culture amongst their competitors and other institutions. However, as a country we needed to be constantly innovative to speak to businesses in a language that they understand.
- The Narok County participants echoed the challenges in their backyard and among these were gender inequality, early marriages, FGM, school drop outs, high population growth, tribalism, corruption, wildlife reserve encroachment, ban on logging affecting their charcoal businesses and climate change which has led to wildlife migration from the Mara to greener pastures as far as into the bordering countries.
- Counties lacked the capacity to realize proper laws governing development and there was need for training and capacity building on their part as some functions under SDGs are devolved functions thus supposed to be implemented by County Governments.
- Finally, Narok County highlighted the need for National and County Governments to end their wrangles and work together since a lot of issues were not being address due to this. Some of these issues being such as compensation by Kenya Wildlife Services for the damages caused by wildlife due to lack of clear structures and funds to carry out the same. Good governance was needed to be able to attain development in their backyard which had tribal politics being a cosmopolitan economy, whereas leaders needed to be the voice of change and advocate for a mindset of the people they serve, gearing them toward a development focused way of thinking.
DAY 3 WAY FORWARD
Members of the Caucus agreed to lobby for SDGs support from their counterparts in parliament through the Liaison Committee.
- Members of the Caucus further resorted to having a high level meeting with the Executive arm of the government to rally them behind the SDGs implementation.
- Members would set up a Bills Digest team within the Caucus to streamline laws to best serve the SDGs Agenda. This would ensure that a gap analysis on legislations is done and recommendations on how to amend this done. Further they would push for a formal recognition in Parliament to be able to be financed by Parliament.
- Narok County would launch an SDGs Caucus in their County Assembly and would support the Narok County women Caucus to empower women as at the moment no Woman vied for any elective seats at the National and County level in the last General Election.
- Narok County urged the Government to come up with alternative solutions before enforcing bans as the ban on logging did not have an alternative in their community and individuals resorted to farming whereby they still cleared trees and bushes and are likely to encroach Wildlife Reserve for the same.
- There was the proposal to have structural reforms within our institutions to enable them implement SDGs , as part of the targets under the SDGs framework lacked institutional mandate for implementation.
- Members would come up with a Concept Paper to sensitize the Legislative arms of the Governments which includes the County Assemblies and Parliament ,on SDGs as well the Executive. A stakeholders forum would also be held while developing the Strategic Plan.
- KAS agreed to hold a training for the caucus on SDGS later in the year and possibly another training in the following year.
- It was agreed between KAS and the Caucus that an SDGs Index Tool Kit would be Developed to be introduced in Parliament by the Caucus.
- KAS would hold a Breakfast Meeting between the Caucus and the German Embassy during the upcoming Renewable Energy Expo in June 2018.
- KAS would also support the Caucus to do a Media Coverage for the work it is doing and this would be done through a documentary.
- KAS would look at the Strategic Plan for the Caucus and see which part they would support once it was developed
- KAS would support Caucus research work within their framework.
- The Caucus would participate in the Speakers and County Assemblies Forum coming up in July.
- The Caucus proposed exchange and learning opportunities from KAS.
- Members committed to carry out different roles at individual level for SDGs realization
- The Caucus would share feedback with KAS, from other meetings on SDGs
- Quality and quantity debates around sustainability would be the indicators of progress in our collaboration work.