From Formulation to Implementation: Investigating the Environmental Policy Process in Nairobi
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An examination of the environmental policy process provides insight into the mechanisms of decision-making that create and implement policies, which in turn affect planning outcomes and development directions. Such in-depth scrutiny has rarely emerged in the East African context, with few studies providing an analysis of the entire policy process and the actor network involved. This study offers a thick, descriptive narrative of the environmental policy arena in Nairobi, where rampant environmental degradation due to unconstrained development is occurring despite the existence of an environmental regulatory framework. The effects of newly implemented constitutional and strategic development reforms in this rapidly evolving African metropolis are also interrogated. The study lens shifts from the macro-level perspective of the policy system and context, to the micro-level of the institutional and individual actors, examining their roles, authority, and the interconnections between them. A qualitative case study approach is utilized, consisting of 25 semi-structured interviews conducted with environmental policymaking leaders in Nairobi. Both deductive (themes are applied to the data) and inductive (themes are derived from the data) analyses are applied to examine the research data in detail. The primary data is supplemented with numerous secondary sources, which provide a practical grounding for the primary analysis. The narrative that coalesces around the data themes uncovers the underlying causes for poor environmental regulation thus far, prominent among them being a lack of institutional capacity in state agencies; corrupt and nepotistic governance; and the splintering of the environmental mandate among numerous state institutions, leading to competition and conflict among them. Adam and Kriesi’s Network Approach (2007) is then critically adapted and applied, revealing the concentration of power in state authorities and disproportionate distribution of influence among non-state actors in the environmental policy subsystem. This policy network analysis shows how these conditions create the potential for low to moderate incremental policy change going forward.