Kenya Aquatica

KCSAP Project

James Kairo monitoring mangrove restoration in Gambia

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute’s Chief Scientist and Pew Fellow Dr James Kairo has been nominated as a member of the Science Board for the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration during its 2021 mandate. The aim of the UN Decade is to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems both on land and in the ocean.

In a letter dated 13th January 2021, and signed by Global Director of Nature-Based Solutions Group Stewart Maginnis, Dr Kairo’s role in the Board will be to provide substantial input to the marine ecosystems restoration discussions and documents, based on his extensive knowledge and expertise in the field. The Science Board’s work will equip global and national policy and decision-makers, implementers and stakeholders to deliver and implement quality ecosystem restoration.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will guide the Board in the production of the final communication materials. The synthesized information will then be used to raise awareness about key milestones in the international agenda this year. 

The Science Board will operate under the leadership of the Chair, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Founder and President of GPS-Dev (Governance & Policies for Sustainable Development) and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, among other distinguished roles. It will also lay the foundation for the Decade Science Task Force, which will operate during 2022-2030.

Speaking after receiving the communication, elated Dr Kairo humbly accepted the nomination and thanked the Board for the confidence placed in him, assuring the members of his unwavering commitment in the execution of the board’s mandate.

Dr Kairo is the co-founder of the award winning Mikoko Pamoja – the first community-type project to restore and protect mangroves through sale of carbon credits.

Mikoko Pamoja has been trading in mangrove carbon credits since 2013. Revenue generated (of about KSh 2.4 million per annum) is used to support community projects in water and sanitation, education, and environmental conservation.

Local people make spending decisions democratically and investments include purchase of new schoolbooks, games kits, furniture and provision of water to the communities. At least 73% of the 6,000-resident population in Gazi and Makongeni villages rely on water provided by Mikoko Pamoja.

This innovative carbon offset project is being replicated and expanded in the neighboring mangroves of Vanga in Kwale County; through generous support from UNEP/GEF Blue Forest, Blue Action Fund of Germany, and the Blue Natural Carbon Financing Facility (BNCFF) that is coordinated through IUCN.

“Sustainable management of coastal and marine resources is critical in the realization of blue economy. Mangroves and associated ecosystems capture and store 5-10 times more carbon than their terrestrial counterparts. When degraded, mangroves not only halt to serve as a carbon sink but most importantly it releases the already stored carbon leading to global warming. Over the last four decades, Kenya has lost 40% of her 60,000ha mangroves,” said Dr Kairo.

Dr Kairo is a member of International Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group that provide robust scientific basis for coastal carbon restoration and management. Previous to this nomination, Dr Kairo served as the coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere.