Interview with George Wamukoya(This interview was conducted in 2002)
Secretary, National Committee on the Implementation
of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act
Executive Director, Center for Research and Education on
Most recently, as Executive Director of the Center for Research and Education on Environmental Law in Kenya, George was requested to resolve a dispute between seven different Kenyan government departments concerning responsibility for a joint research project with Kew Gardens, a British organization. The project entailed accessing key genetic resources for research on feed for indigenous trees. This intra-governmental conflict went unresolved for 18 months, during which time George attended IPMS. Upon his return from the program, he applied a mutual gains approach to the dispute, which consequently gave way to the development of a solution to which all the parties agreed. The Kenyan Minister of the Environment has since traveled to the United Kingdom to sign the agreement with Kew Gardens.
Most Important IPMS Lessons
George feels strongly that the negotiation simulations in the program prepare participants to confront precisely the sorts of conflict dynamics with which professionals are accustomed to dealing in the field. These simulations, he feels, allow people to take on one another’s roles and thus gain a deeper understanding of other perspectives on the issues in question.
George adds that the educational material distributed during the program was also very useful and not easily found elsewhere.
Applying IPMS Lessons
George has developed a sustainable development course in Kenya modeled after IPMS and has been implementing it through the Kenyan Institute of Administration (KIA), an institution which provides management training to top government officials as well as individuals from the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and local communities. To date, three such courses have been offered at KIA and three have been offered in the field to District Environmental Committees. George found that 15 out of 16 participants appreciated the unique benefits of the program. As a result of the positive feedback, the Kenyan government now requires all environmental officials and technicians registered under the Environmental Act to receive this form of training.
Suggestions for Improving IPMS
In terms of substantive improvements for IPMS, George suggests that attention be focused on the use of the environmental audit as a tool, in addition to environmental impact and risk assessments. “How can we use the audit as a tool to improve upon environmental concerns in ongoing work?” George asks.
George also cites that the mutual gains approach to negotiation encourages parties to be precise in expressing their interests. He feels that IPMS should address the implications such an imperative has for the verbal and written forms in which stakeholders should present their interests.
Suggestions for Other SCF Activities
George proposes that the Sustainability Challenge Foundation develop regional training programs facilitated by international faculty. He favors widening the substantive scope of IPMS as well as setting up other exchange programs by which IPMS faculty members could make brief visits to certain locations for a general lecture or specific training session. George also feels that efforts should be made to improve networking among past participants so that developments in Kenya can be transmitted through SCF to practitioners working elsewhere under a variety of different economic and ecological circumstances.