SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Governing the Environment in Kenya: Confronting Contending Norms in a Plural Legal System

Patricia Kameri-Mbote
Patricia Kameri-Mbote (University of Nairobi)

Date: 28 October 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 28 October 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar


Since the world gathered in Stockholm Sweden for an international Conference on the Human Environment, environmental law has grown exponentially. The quest for sustainable development has taken centre stage with the landmark United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 charting pathways for achieving sustainable development by addressing emergent challenges such as biological diversity loss; climate change and desertification. For the past three decades, African countries have negotiated, adopted, ratified and participated in the making of numerous treaties and conventions on areas ranging from access to information, public participation in decision making, access to justice, environmental impact assessment, climate change, women's rights, nature conservation, biosafety, biodiversity, among others. Kenya is among countries that have elaborate environmental management laws anchored on a transformative constitution that includes international law as part of law; supported by a robust framework environmental law and very detailed laws and policies. Despite these remarkable developments and the establishment of an Environment and Land Court to ensure access to justice in environmental matters, implementation of the laws is characterized by discrepancies between the formal and the informal contexts. In this talk, I use specific examples to explore the normative contest between formal and informal natural resource management laws; climate change interventions and women's, children's, and nature's rights in environmental governance at international, national, and local levels in Kenya. I argue that the achievement of the sustainable development goals and successful transition to green growth through reduced greenhouse gas emissions in Kenya is predicated on the extent to which environmental governance is decolonized, engendered, deconstructed and reconstructed taking into account norms from the plurality of operative laws.

Speaker Biography

Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote is a Founding Research Director of (IELRC), and the Programme Director for Africa. She studied law at the University of Nairobi, the University of Warwick, the University of Zimbabwe and pursued her doctoral studies at Stanford Law School, (Stanford University). She is currently an Associate Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Nairobi and an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

She has also taught international environmental law at the University of Kansas. She is a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, a board member of the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE-Uganda) and Women and Law in East Africa (WLEA). She has consulted for many international and national agencies including the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the government of Kenya.She is also the Africa Editor of the Law, Environment and Development Journal (LEAD Journal), a peer-reviewed academic journal jointly published by IELRC and SOAS.

She has published widely in the areas of international law, environmental law, women's rights and property rights. Her research interests include public international law, environment and natural resources law and policy, human rights, women's rights, intellectual property rights, biotechnology policy and law and economic law.

Speaker: Patricia Kameri-Mbote (University of Nairobi)

Chair: Philippe Cullet (SOAS)


This event is open to the public, however registration is required. Online Registration

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