Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute’s (KMFRI) Chief Scientist Dr James Kairo is among 15 expert members appointed to the Decade Advisory Board out of the 243 nominations received by the Board. The 15 from across the globe are drawn from government, private sector, philanthropy, civil society, and the scientific community or are serving in their individual capacity. They will serve in the board for two years.
Early last year, the United Nations officially announced a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health.
In a letter dated 13th December 2021, the Head of the Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Julian Barbière, on behalf of the Decade Coordination Unit of the IOC-UNESCO Secretariat, congratulated Dr. Kairo on his new appointment and thanked him for his engagement and commitment.
Dr. Kairo is a Pew Fellow and Chief Scientist at KMFRI where he heads a dedicated team working on mangroves and associated blue carbon ecosystem. He is also a member of the International Scientific Working Group on Blue Carbon. Previously, Dr Kairo served as the coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).
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.
This is the second time this year Dr Kairo is being nominated to serve in high profile UN advisory board. Early this year, Dr Kairo bagged a nomination 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.
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 including 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 has been replicated and expanded in the neighboring mangroves of Vanga in Kwale County; through generous support from UNEP/ Global Environment Facility (GEF) Blue Forest, Blue Action Fund of Germany, and the Blue Natural Carbon Financing Facility (BNCFF) that is coordinated through International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
During the 31st session of the IOC Assembly (UNESCO) held between 14th and 15th June 2021, IOC Member States, UN agencies and partners expressed strong support for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and to the IOC in its role as coordinator of the implementation phase of the Decade.
The Decade Advisory Board will be a multi-stakeholder advisory body that will assist the IOC Secretariat in performing its function as coordinator of the Decade. The Board will also report both to the IOC governing bodies and the IOC Executive Secretary and advise on implementation of decade’s priorities to address societal needs. It is also expected to review the Decade progress towards improving the quality and quantity of research outputs that address the Decade’s challenges, identify gaps and opportunities, advise on research data, stewardship strategies, development of resource mobilization strategies, and supporting the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework of the Decade. The Board will also provide advice and operational support to the IOC Executive Secretary to facilitate the endorsement process of Decade Actions, specifically at the programme level.
Dr Kairo’s colleagues in the board are Dr Frida Maria Armas-Pfirter (Argentina), Dr Tamatoa Bambridge (France), Dr Silvia Elena Chacón-Barrantes (Costa Rica), Prof Dato’ Dr Nor Aieni Haji Mokhtar (Malaysia), Vidar Helgesen (Norway/Sweden), Prof Gideon Henderson (UK), Charlotte Hudson (USA), Dr Margaret Leinen (USA), Angelique Pouponneau (Seychelles), Bente Pretlove (Norway), Dr Fangli Qiao (China), Dr. Katy Soapi (Solomon Islands), Dr Alexander Turra (Brazil), and Prof Kouadio Affian (Côte d’Ivoire).
In addition to the 15 expert members, UN Legal Counsel/DOALOS, which is the Secretariat and focal point of UN-Oceans and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, will have one permanent seat on the Decade Advisory Board. The IOC Secretariat as coordinator of the Decade will also have a permanent seat on the Board. Three more seats will be reserved for UN Agencies and will be identified through consultations via UN-Oceans.