The SLEEK (System for Land-based Emissions Estimation in Kenya) started in 2010 as the National Carbon Accounting System for Kenya and is the brainchild of the Government of Kenya and Government of Australia Cooperation. SLEEK was envisaged as a complete system encompassing all the administrative, governance and technical aspects required to ensure it could support Kenya’s policy and reporting requirements.
The SLEEK operates in small working groups of about 4-5 experts, each focusing on specific categories of emissions such as biomass, land cover change, soil, cropping systems, climate parameters, etc. These working groups are led by institutions in Kenya that have mandates on the issues so that beyond international financing timeframes, the mandated institutions can continue providing data for the SLEEK as part of their day to day service provision. For example, the working group focused on climate parameters is under the Kenya Meteorological Department while the team working on land cover change mapping is led by the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing. A unique and highly successful aspect of SLEEK is that the working groups are made up of experts from multiple institutions. This helps ensure that all institutions participate in all aspects of the system rather than creating technical silos and institutional walls. For example, the remote sensing team is comprised of experts from the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS), Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and several universities all working together to produce an agreed, time series consistent set of maps to support the SLEEK system.
The SLEEK started development of the FLINT (Full Lands Integration Tool) in 2014 as an integration tool that brings in datasets from different databases and modules (land cover change, forest biomass, climate, soil etc.) and provide emissions associated with land use changes. By using an integration tool like the FLINT, advance methods and approaches can be used. In IPCC jargon, the SLEEK include Tier 3, Approach 3 processes to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from forests.
According to Mr. Ali Mwanzei the coordinator of SLEEK and Dr. Mwangi Kinyanjui of Karatina University, having an institution like SLEEK in Kenya is beneficial to the Kenyan Government and its people. Through SLEEK, people have been able to study and participate in trainings to understand Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas inventory processes and this has played a big role in capacity building. Members of SLEEK have learnt through experience and have participated in national and international trainings. For example, under the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency, members of different working groups have participated in trainings guided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO – Australia) and the Mullion Group in conjunction with Moja Global.
To ensure the FLINT is operational in Kenya, five people from the SLEEK team travelled to Canberra in August 2019 under Conservation International CBIT funding. The 10-day experiential training focused on data improvement, the principles of data integration and the end-to-end process of going from data to outputs.
Understanding data requirements of the FLINT has improved the national inventory and the MRV (measuring, reporting and verification) process. The SLEEK identifies support for decision making as an important product of the FLINT. This is because the FLINT provides information not only for international reporting, but also for decision making on conservation and reduction of GHGs for the national and devolved administrative units.
Although SLEEK was still evolving during the time when Kenya was preparing its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submission to the UNFCCC in 2015, its benefits for Kenya are very likely to play out in the coming years. Kenya’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and this is included in the country’s NDC, the Constitution of Kenya and Vision 2030, Kenya’s development blueprint. Mr. Mwanzei acknowledges that the SLEEK has been institutionalized within the Climate Change and Conservation directorates of the Ministry in charge of Environment. As such, a budgetary allocation and office space are availed. The reasoning is that FLINT is a useful tool in decision-making and with the amount of information that it generates, interpretations can be made about volumes and patterns of Kenya’s emission history, its relationship with policy implementation and actions that are needed to reduce emissions.
Despite the many benefits of the FLINT in Kenya, SLEEK faces various challenges. Even though the Government of Kenya supports SLEEK financially, more resources and training are needed to ensure that SLEEK delivers results to its full capacity. This will allow FLINT to be fully running by 2020 so that other countries can also use it for programs such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and the National Inventory Reports.