June 29 2023
By Meresia Aloo
In a momentous event held today in Nairobi, Kenya has taken on the presidency of the 13th Governing Council of the Lusaka Agreement. The Cabinet Secretary (CS) of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, Peninah Malonza, was appointed as the first-ever female President of the council during its ministerial session. The Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Justin B. Muturi, was present as a witness to this historic occasion.
Expressing her gratitude, CS Malonza extended her appreciation to her esteemed colleagues and fellow honorable ministers for entrusting her with the tremendous honor of serving as the council’s president. She emphasized the deep bonds of friendship and shared interests that unite the countries involved, stating, “Together, we represent countries bound by shared economic, social, and cultural ties, and we have enjoyed a longstanding friendship that has strengthened our resolve in the face of adversity.”
The Lusaka Agreement holds a vital role in global biodiversity conservation, particularly in combatting wildlife and forest crimes and addressing the looming threat of climate change. It aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2016, which aim to eradicate poverty, combat inequality, tackle climate change, and ensure inclusivity. SDG 15 specifically focuses on the sustainable management of forests, the fight against desertification, the reversal of land degradation, and the halt of biodiversity loss.
Reflecting on the genesis of the Lusaka Agreement, CS Malonza paid homage to visionary leaders who recognized the urgent need to protect Africa’s rich natural resources from organized criminals. She highlighted the importance of finding homegrown solutions to effectively address the challenges faced in the region.
Kenya assumes leadership of the Task Force during a time when Africa is embracing transformative conservation practices and pioneering innovations to safeguard its invaluable environmental heritage. CS Malonza expressed her commitment to working closely with partners and seeking support to mainstream the Lusaka Agreement within the African Union, aiming to expand membership and strengthen its impact.
The event witnessed the presence of honorable ministers from member states, members of the diplomatic corps, and key representatives, including the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Wildlife, Ms. Silvia Museiya, the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Tourism, Mr. John Ololtuaa, and representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), among others.
Kenya’s assumption of the presidency marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to protect Africa’s wildlife, forests, and natural resources. With CS Malonza at the helm, the 13th Governing Council of the Lusaka Agreement is poised to make significant strides in conserving biodiversity, combating wildlife and forest crimes, and addressing the challenges posed by climate change.