Kenya is ready for the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2), which will take place from February 28 to March 2 ,2022, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Amb Kamau Macharia, has assured.
Amb Macharia added that immediately after UNEA-5.2, the Assembly will hold a Special Session on March 3 to 4, 2022, which is devoted to the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the creation of UN Environment Programme, dubbed (UNEP@50). The events will take place at the UNEP Headquarters, Gigiri.
He outlined that UNEA 5.2 overall theme is: ‘Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’,
UNEP@50 will be: ‘Strengthening UNEP for the Implementation of the Environmental Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. The UNEP has 193 Member states and each is expected to send representatives.
The two Conferences bring together over 2,000 delegates from 193 UN Member States. UNEP is the only UN Headquarters in the global South.
“The Assembly, this time round, shall address itself to three planetary crises: planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste,” stated the PS in a statement read on his behalf by Director of International Conferences and Events (DICE), Amb Isaiya Kabira.
This was during a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Environment and Forestry together with UNEP, joint press briefing on UNEA 5.2 and UNEP@50, held this afternoon at 316 Upper Hill Chambers.
The biannual UNEA will mark the Fifth Session since the First Environmental Assembly that was held in Nairobi in 2014.
This coming session of UNEA5.2 and the Special session on UNEP@50 Kenya has called for a wider in person participation and among the high-level delegates among them, four Presidents, from the Republic of Botswana, Maldives, Nigeria and South Sudan, the Vice President of Tanzania and of Iran, the Prime Minister of Srilanka and Namibia, the UN Deputy Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly as well as several Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Environmental Ministries. Both gatherings will be in-person and online in compliance with international COVID-19 procedures as regards to mass gatherings.
Ministry of Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo, acknowledged support from UNEP that has gone towards development of environmental policies, regulations and multi-lateral environmental agreements in Kenya.
Dr Kiptoo said the country has partnered with UNEP in implementing various activities that have seen improvements in socio-economic spheres, particularly in forest conservation, ban on single-use plastics, environmental management legislation, including the Waste Management Bill currently being discussed in Parliament, among others.
“Kenya is a strong advocate for the environment and holds steadfast to its pledge of 1972 to support UNEP in the execution of its mandate. We have taken this commitment to the environment with us into the UN Security Council where during our term, Climate Change and the Environment is one of our priority areas.
Amb. Makena Muchiri, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the UNEP & United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), asked all delegates, including the media personnel covering the events to download a self-reporting application (App) on their smart-phones and I-Phones to enable them share their COVID-19 status on a daily basis after taking self-administered rapid antigen testing to ensure that everyone is safe and healthy.
“During the Conferences, delegates will be supplied with a COVID-19 self-administered rapid antigen testing kits for the duration they are attending either or all the events at the UNEP Complex, to ensure compliance,” Amb Muchiri explained.
This is as per best compliance practice, in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines as concerns mass gatherings of international nature. Rapid antigen testing should take 15 – 20 minutes to produce results.
Each participant to the historic commemorative events is to be provided with the guidelines, to ensure maximum protection against contracting and/or spreading the viral disease.
Acting Deputy Executive Director – UNEP, Sonja Leighton-Kone, expressed concern at the global environmental challenges highlighting the abuse that mother earth experiences daily that has adversely affected humanity over time.
“We now experience unpredictable weather patterns leading to droughts and floods, our water sources are choking with pollution and threatening life underwater; countries face near extinction as a result of climate change; briefly stated, humanity is facing a challenge of enormous proportions,” said.
She continued: “This commemoration is also special for Kenya as it accords us the opportunity to reflect on the successful journey that the country undertook to ensure that UNEP is hosted in Nairobi and we look forward to showcasing this journey at the conference.”
Being the leading global authority on environment, UNEP is the only global actor with the mandate and capacity to bring together nations, leaders, businesses and civil society to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time. It is through its campaigns, that awareness is raised and advocacy for effective action on critical environmental challenges is enhanced. Moreover, within the UN family, UNEP is the voice for the environmental dimension of sustainable development.
On the other hand, the UNEA is the world’s highest-level decision-making body that addresses present-day critical environmental challenges. The Environment Assembly meets every two years to identify primacies for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law. Through its resolutions and calls to action, UNEA provides leadership and catalyzes intergovernmental action on the environment.
Some of the expected outcomes from UNEP@50 commemoration include: promoting a more systematic approach to environmental challenges experienced in the world currently; strengthening UNEP through a renewed long-term vision building on the Rio+20 outcome document; enhance and strengthen environmental integration; and reflecting on the historic achievements, impacts and importance of international law and re-examining how global environmental governance can be modernized and strengthened.
Since environmental preservation, conservation and management is a collective responsibility and no country or continent can solve these global crises alone, each nation has a crucial role to play in protecting its citizens and the environment.
By Nancy JN Mathu