The birth of the EANECE can be traced back to the 8th International Conference of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) that was held in Cape Town, South Africa in April, 2008. One of the key outcomes of this conference was the commitment to explore opportunities for regional networking in Africa. During the said conference, INECE hosted a regional forum for compliance professionals from Sub-Saharan Africa. Participants at the forum considered the benefits of a regional compliance and enforcement network as one of the tools necessary for strengthening environmental law enforcement capacity in the region. The regional forum resolved to establish the Sub-Saharan Network for Environmental Compliance & Enforcement with the objective of enhancing environmental compliance and enforcement in the region by sharing information and experience. Participants agreed to divide the network into four sub-regions, each with a sub-regional focal point namely: Eastern Africa (Kenya), Southern Africa (S. Africa), Central Africa (Cameroon) and West Africa (Ghana).
Owing to various challenges, the Sub-Saharan network and its sub-regional affiliates did not live beyond the conference. Despite this setback, the idea of developing regional environmental enforcement networks for Africa lived on. In 2010, through the efforts of various individuals across East Africa, it became possible to mobilize support for an East African network. With the technical and financial support of partners including INECE, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the Danish International Development Cooperation Agency (DANIDA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), a sub-regional conference was held in Nairobi in May, 2010 where delegates from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda along with environmental compliance and enforcement experts from the international community resolved to establish East African Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE).
In its initial five years of existence EANECE flourished as a very successful sub-regional network that took lead in joint capacity building for environmental law enforcement in the East African sub-region. However, around the year 2016 the network experienced various resource and leadership challenges that threatened its existence. Between 2016 and 2019 EANECE was not able to carry out any activities due to these challenges. However, the network has been able to navigate through some of these challenges under the guidance and leadership of the Environmental Compliance Institute (ECI), a Nairobi-based NGO that currently provides the network’s Secretariat. With support from UNEP’s Law Division, EANECE was able to develop a new Strategic Plan (2020 – 2025), a Resource Mobilization Strategy and a Communication Plan. This support enabled the re-launch of EANECE in August, 2020. Going forward, EANECE is expected to play a greater role in environmental governance across the East Africa sub-region and beyond.