Cyrille-Lazare Siewe
Today's Expert
Cyrille-Lazare Siewe
Topic: A new opportunity for a multi-stakeholders engagement towards the UNEA
Cyrille holds a Doctorate in Environmental Health and Risk Assessment, a degree in Chemical Health and Safety Engineering, and certificates in Public Health and Environmental Toxicology. He holds mor...
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Number of questions: [9]
Posted on 07/10/2015 11:28:52
? In your opinion, which is better method of enabling better environmental management in developing countries: the use of policies or development programmes?
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Hey Joseph,
I afraid that you and I will confiscate the debate...
UNEP just launched yesterday during the Eyes of the Eartth Summit in Abu Dhabi a Guideline on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration which sets out three fundamental rights: access to
information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound
environmental governance. The “access rights” have emerged to be very important in
promoting transparent, inclusive and accountable environmental governance. Access to
information empowers citizens and incentivizes them to participate in decision and policy
making processes in an informed manner. Public participation is increasingly being seen
as a vital part of addressing environmental problems and bringing about sustainable
development by allowing governments to adopt policies and enact laws that take
community needs into account. Access to justice provides the foundation of the other
“access rights” as it facilitates the public’s ability to enforce their right to participate, to
be informed, and to hold regulators and polluters accountable for environmental harm.
As you can see, this introduction underpins four other important Pillar: LEARN-ENGAGE- PARTICIPATE and VISUALISE. These are what platform is offering to civil society organizations in order to ensure their voice count.


Posted on 07/10/2015 10:18:47
i strongly feel that the current education curriculum is inadequate in equipping the young generation on sensitive environmental issues.Are there any programmes that UNEP has put in place that can form partnerships with learning institutions so as to create environmental awareness among students in Africa, especially in Kenya ?
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Very interesting point Joseph. Extremely important point!
Indeed, tomorrow's leaders need to be equipped for tomorrow's challenges, and we must adequately prepare our children for the future they will inherit. That requires a commitment to providing children with environmental education that helps them become the educated thought leaders of tomorrow. I can re-assure you that UNEP have great experience developing training materials and educational tools such as the toxicology in the Classroom (see at:, The CD-based Resource Tool Toxicology in the Classroom aims at raising awareness among young students about potential adverse effects of chemicals and help reduce careless use of pesticides.
Since last 6-7 years, UNEP has engaged in developing MAINSTREAMING programmes with the mains to integrate the Environment into national planning exercises. This set of programmes are part of the main innovative ideas developed to provide coherent and inclusive responses to WHY our environment is important, WHAT are the mains pillars, WHO has to be involve at the national, subregional and regional level while discussing issue related to environment. The development of this mainstreaming approach generate within UNEP a new paradigm in addressing challenges facing by our environment. For example, What is the cost of inaction for the sound chemical management? What are the benefits of action?
And now... are you Joseph and colleagues ready to campaign for a safe environment? Are we all ready to paid the human, material, organizational [...] cost for a Healthy environment which WE Healthy people might deserved?
We need another discussion session isn't it?
To add on the debate, let us also add few positive interesting and benefits points of environmental education:
Environmental education should not be confined to the classroom and not aimed only at children; despite the formal ring to the term ‘education’, it has life-long relevance to people from all walks of life. It is also increasingly recognised that environmental education is not a ‘nice-to-have’ peripheral activity, but an integral part of the sustainable socio-economic development that is required to achieve equality and a better quality of life for all.
Environmental education ideally does not deal with bio-physical environments and heritage resources in isolation from their social, cultural, economic and political aspects. There is also a strong emphasis on methods that:
i. Go beyond awareness raising through messages, to developing the learners’ ability to move from current action to better action (environmentally sustainable practices);
ii. Are interactive, encouraging learners (youth and adults) to participate actively in the learning process by asking questions, making contributions, investigating issues and developing solutions with others;
iii. Encourage critical thinking and a disposition to not take information at face value;
iv. Address social and cultural values and commitments;
v. Help learners solve problems and make informed decisions;
vi. Develop the ability to act with understanding (capacity building).
I am sure that you guys, being in the academic domain, will better identity key findings that I can do!

Posted on 07/10/2015 10:06:23
5. Are there uniform standards (green building standards) that can guide the certification of building by the respective authorities?
Mokaya Eric (from Kenya)
The introduction of the certification and standard in the building industry have changed the normal practice.
I am happy to share the link hereafter which will provide some guidance and direction as for the standards. The following link will provide you with key-information which I hope you will interesting.


Posted on 07/10/2015 09:57:44
1. Are there uniform international standards in the accounting for the value of natural resources in the economy?
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Dear Joseph,
I recall that this theme was part of the debates at the World Trade Organization few year ago and a very important publication was issued, which I provide the link here:
Not sure whether the publication was update and I hope you will find it useful.
More importantly, the problem of protecting natural resources also stressed the need for citizen participation in intergovernmental processes and how social media can help in creating a social movement towards UNEA.
A lot is happening. With a civil society on board, It will bring more strength and arguments to ongoing discussion and build an inclusive and integrated solution for a healthy environment.
I invite you to edit your profile on and be part of the discussion, be part of the history.

Posted on 07/10/2015 09:25:39
3. How can the resident community of a certain area be involved in the Restoration, Preservation and Protection of Natural Resources?
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Dear Joseph,
Just to speak in a very simple way, teaching people about tree will safe the tree for a cut... Training the population on water preservation and water quality will enabled them to protect their water source and improve the sanitation. It is well demonstrate how empowering people give them the ownership of their environment. I think that among many other options, these seems to be the most realistic as it does not involve necessarily money and heavy planning, but rather re-organisation.
Information access and dissemination on such important issue is also very important. Community can be organize around what is most important to them: Water and... life.
Then, the next step could be How decent sanitation and access to drinking water and good sanitation contribute to an Healthy environment for healthy people... we are there... we are at the UNEA Already!!! Let this be our motive and let us also plan to exchange on this. You are from the Academia and I am sure that you know better that we does at UNEP how the applied science findings can leverage living conditions and thus... contributing to an healthy environment. the platform is the place where such debate can take place, involving a multi-stakeholder approach and contribute to major outcomes. Please visit the site and bring in your suggestion and we will organize this discussion for you and with you. Mobile people around you, get them involve for the achievement of SDGs and the 2030. Bring your voice at:

Posted on 07/10/2015 09:16:12
it is believed that bamboo vegetation plays a big role in wet land conservation.How true is the statement and which other vegetation species indigenous within the tropics that can serve the same propose and still provide means of livelihood.???j
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Dear Joseph,

Just a little addition:
You are probably aware that the theme for the next United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is: "Delivering on the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030". A highlight at the core of the session ministers will discuss how to achieve a 'Healthy Environment for Healthy People'. There is a strong linkage between your today concern and the theme of the next UNEA2. I would like to engage you and your group in participating to the e-discussion which will be organized as we are moving towards the UNEA2. I therefore look forward to seeing you playing an important role during e-discussion.
Please visit: and also have your say!

Posted on 07/10/2015 09:01:32
3. Land tenure issues health and sanitation are major problems in slums. How can legislation and policies help in solving these issues?
Mokaya Eric (from Kenya)
Dear Eric,
Providing water and sanitation services to the urban poor often takes place in contexts with complex formal and informal land ownership arrangements. Firstly, the people in most need of improved water and sanitation are often tenants, and this raises diverse challenges: for example, landlords may be unwilling to invest in better toilets. Secondly, improving water and sanitation services often requires land for construction of communal or public facilities, and land tenure again raises diverse problems here.
This Topic which we are discussing demonstrate how the dynamics of tenure and tenancy underpin the incentives and priorities of the major stakeholders in improving basic services. The poor living conditions of low-income settlements with high tenancy rates are a result of a lack of investment by all parties. Lack of adequate space for basic services is a result of informal urban development that exceeds the capacity of town planning. Tenure and tenancy dynamics can be complex and strongly rooted in political and historical underpinnings. Understanding how these dynamics influence different programme options is key to developing appropriate basic services for the urban poor.
While also answering to we found this very interesting publication which I recommend you.
This is also an example of multi-stakeholder approach for problem solving and sharing ideas and experiences are key.
I would encourage you and your colleagues to continue engaging in such experience sharing and information exchange, using whereas it possible.
Finally, Eric, I would also wish to refer you to the work of my colleagues from the
International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) on water and Sanitation.
Hope it helps,

Scott, P. (2013). Dealing with Land Tenure and Tenancy Challenges in Water and Sanitation Services Delivery. Building Partnerships for Development (BPD), Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), UK

Posted on 07/10/2015 08:44:54
2. How can public private partnership assist in slums upgrading of slums upgrading and what other strategies can the government put in place in place to help upgrade slums? In terms of infrastructure and housing
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Dear Joseph,
Slums are the spontaneous response of the poor to their own needs for shelter in cities. They are essentially a private phenomenon, which responds to market incentives and distortions without extensive government interference. Slums form part of the informal economy, and they house many of the informal economy’s actors. Slums thrive and grow because a significant amount of economic activity contributes to the provision of basic shelter, water, food, energy, and other goods to slum dwellers. Slum dwellers are often entrepreneurs themselves, but their demand also attracts other informal entrepreneurs.
The formal private sector has played a role in slum creation as well as the role of injured party, defendant of property rights, or passive landlord. Private landowners may even be complicit with the “land invasions” and “informal land developers” that establish slums on their property because it opens the opportunity to charge rent to inhabitants while legally reserving the right to evict squatters when better opportunities for commercial development arise
I would also like to invite you to visit an excellent resource portal which my colleagues from the Ecosystem management and land degradation have created. I am sure that you will find a very useful tool to continue the research which you and your team are working on. Please visit:


Posted on 07/10/2015 08:36:55
1. What are the major factors that contribute to growth of slums in urban areas and how can they be controlled
joseph mugo (from Kenya)
Dear Joseph,
This is a excellent question and of course of concern to you and your network. is a place where discussion on Environmental Health issue should also take place.
While forwarding this specific question to a more large expert network, I will also count on your colleagues at the University of Nairobi to share their thoughts on this issue of concern.

Meanwhile, I would like to add few words on (1) Why do slums develop and if possible (2) How can they be controlled.
(1) What are factors that contribute to growth of slums?
Slums are not a new phenomenon. They have been part of the history of most cities, particularly in the early years of urbanisation and industrialisation as populations boomed. Slums are generally the only type of settlement affordable and accessible to the poor in cities, where competition for land and profits is intense.
There are two main reasons why slums develop: population growth and governance.
> Population growth
Countries around the world are urbanising rapidly as more people migrate from rural areas to the cities and natural population growth continues to occur. Today, more than half the world’s population resides in urban areas. More than 90 percent of this urban growth is taking place in the developing world.
Urban migration happens for a number of reasons:
i) The pushing and pulling forces of migration. Some people migrate because they are pushed out of their place of origin by factors such as natural disasters or sustained ecological changes. Others are pulled to a new destination by better job prospects, education, health facilities, or freedom from restrictive social or cultural realities.
ii) Low incomes from agriculture. Most people in rural areas work in the agricultural sector, which is highly dependent on weather. Also, rural land is limited, its fertility sometimes low or declining, land holdings are small, farm debts are high, and many households have become landless. As a result, overall rural incomes are low.
iii) Better job prospects. In comparison with rural areas, urban areas offer dramatically increased job opportunities. In addition, because urban cultures are often less constrained than those in villages, cities can also offer greater prospects of upward social mobility.
iv) People know what cities can offer them. Most migrants make a deliberate choice to stay or leave in rural areas. Improved transport, communications and links with earlier migrants have all made rural populations much more aware of the advantages and disadvantages of urban life, especially regarding job opportunities and housing.
v) Urban migration is often a survival strategy for rural households. Sometimes, rural households split into several groups located in different places—rural areas, small towns, and big cities—in order to diversify their sources of income and be less vulnerable to economic downturns.
> Governance
Another reason slums develop is bad governance. Governments often fail to recognize the rights of the urban poor and incorporate them into urban planning, thereby contributing to the growth of slums.
In addition, many countries simply cannot respond to rapid urbanization quickly enough. People are coming to cities far faster than the planning process can incorporate them. Often, they find their own land and build a shack before the government has a chance to learn of their existence.
The attitude of a government towards urbanization is also an important component. Some governments take a hostile approach to urbanization. They believe that if they provide urban services to the poor, it will attract urbanization and cause the slums to grow. The problem with this view is that very few people come to the city for water or services—they come looking for work.
In other cases, governments take more of a passive approach to urbanization. They either do not have the planning tools to deal with the rapid urbanization that is happening, or the tools in place are not sufficiently responsive to the reality on the ground.

(2) How can we control the slums?
Slums are a result of the economic forces that pull people towards cities. Global neoliberalism structured the market such that previously subsistence agricultural land became privatized and dominated by a few large farm producers. Looking for employment after declining rural prospects, the masses made up of peasants and landless tenants moved to the cities.
However, this issue remains a bit controversial as it involves multiple entry point and parameters such as:
- a mass explosion in population and urbanization;
- the industrial revolution in which economic growth occurred alongside industrialization;
- urbanization and population growth without economic development;
- Scarcity of employment and lack of access to basic services and housing creates an informal sector defined by improvised slum dwellings and black market commerce.
Urban bias and over urbanization created an unbalanced and ultimately stagnant economy in which the majority of the population did not have access to formal employment. The core principles of neoliberalism include deregulation, privatization and minimal public infrastructure and render basic infrastructure and services (housing, utilities) unattainable for those inhabiting slum settlements. Consequently, billions of people are excluded from formal employment and housing. Many live in unsanitary and crowded conditions, lack clean water or plumbing and have no legal rights to the land they occupy.
Solving this complex issue would mean to rethink the way cities ate conceived, built and interconnected. Its call for a massive investments on urbanization, building new cities integrating findings from major UN agencies, green cities using green energy and materials with less footprint on the ecosystem, respecting Air quality standard etc...
Another domain where civil society organization have to engage, participate, said their words... is the forum where such discussion can take place.

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