By Sharon Atieno

Mombasa County becomes the third city in Kenya to launch the Green Cities Initiative (GCI) which aims to improve the livelihoods and well-being of urban and peri-urban populations by addressing urban challenges including urbanization, agri-food systems limits and climate change.

Besides Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi cities in Kenya are among the 12 African cities chosen to take part in the pilot phase of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – led initiative in the continent.

Other cities include: Praia, Antananarivo, Kigali, Tunis, Arusha, Quelimane, Tamale, Kitwe, Kaffrine/Kunghel and Tare/Bushoki.

In his opening remarks during the official launch, FAO Assistant Representative in charge of Programmes, Hamisi Williams reiterated FAO’s readiness to support the National and county governments as well as other government agencies to enable an effective policy environment.

He noted that Mombasa is an ASAL city by virtue of being surrounded by ASAL counties, and therefore needs to be strategically supported to mitigate and build resilience against climate change.

“We at FAO are proud of the green cities initiative which is a flagship of the FAO Director General with Kenya piloting in three cities. This demonstrates the important position that Kenyan cities occupy in Africa region and the need for the GCI to be supported to address its objectives,” he said.

During the ceremony, Hon. Tendai Mtana, the County Executive Committee member, Agriculture, Mombasa County, introduced the Utangamano Bay Economy framework. The framework, he said, “seeks to integrate urban food systems and greening into the planning and policy process for sustainability and economic development of the county.”

Hon. Mtana noted that under the Utangamano Bay Economy Framework, GCI in Mombasa city will focus on mainstreaming urban food systems, urban forestry and greening into policies, planning and governance, increase the availability and accessibility of urban green spaces as well as creating awareness on importance of urban forestry and greening.

In view of the above, in September 2020, FAO launched its Green Cities Initiative with a target of reaching at least 100 cities around the world in the next three years, with an aim to have 1000 cities join by 2030. The Green Cities Action Plan will focus primarily on small and intermediary African cities.

The GCI was launched in September 2020 to address the challenges and gaps of current food systems in urban areas which are being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative targets to reach at least 100 cities around the world in the next three years, with an aim to have 1000 cities join by 2030. The Green Cities Action Plan will focus primarily on small and intermediary African cities.

The Africa Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projects that Africa will have the fastest urban growth rate in the world, with an increase of 950 million people living in the continent’s cities by 2050.

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