Your Excellency, David A. Granger, President of the Republic of Guyana,
Your Excellency Anthony Carmona, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
Your Excellency Mataafa Fiame Naomi, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa,
Excellencies, Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome you all to Kenya for this third Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly. I am informed this is the third time the United Nations Environment Assembly is meeting in Nairobi. For this gesture, we say: Asanteni Sana na Karibuni Kenya.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you all know, Nairobi is the home of United Nations Environment Programme. I am, therefore, pleased to congratulate the Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme, Mr. Eric Solheim, as he begins his very first session at this Assembly.
I am confident, Mr. Solheim, given your energy and passion for matters of environment, the United Nations Environment Progaramme will do even more for our countries under your leadership. I would like to assure you that you can count on my Government’s full support.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Assembly’s theme, titled, ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’, could not be more fitting.
Not too long ago, the pursuit of prosperity was undertaken by nations without regard to environmental consequences.
Few bothered to count the environmental costs, and even when they did, they went unheeded. Right across the world we can now all see the consequences of that careless pollution of the past. And, indeed, experts are predicting even more dire consequences if we do not act now.
The world gathers here today because we have learnt an expensive lesson: unless our environmental riches are protected by all, there can be no lasting prosperity for any of us.
Excellencies, We in Kenya have learnt this lesson and have been taking appropriate mitigating actions. Let me say a few words about what we in Kenya have done.
Some months ago, we banned the manufacture, sale, or use of plastic carrier bags. The ban was backed by fairly severe measures, as one might expect, given the gravity of pollution by plastics in this region’s land, air, water, and marine ecosystems.
The ban may seem only a small step. In fact, it has already cut plastic pollution substantially. Equally important has been its positive effect on public opinion. That the ban has held is proof that we do not have to give in to pollution: public action can make a difference.
If citizens can work with their governments to end such a ubiquitous source of pollution, then they can move on to even bigger, more demanding targets. We now know that maintaining high levels of ambition in fighting pollution is an achievable and positive undertaking.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the many countries and organizations that sent us messages of support and encouragement in the pursuit of the ban on plastic carrier bags. We are proud of this achievement and we hope that our example will inspire other countries too.
My advice is that nations should not heed the skeptics, who say that all countries cannot protect our planet better by banning plastic carrier bags.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is now Kenya’s intention to move on to another major anti-pollution project. Soon, we will host the East African Framework Agreement on Air Pollution, building on the Nairobi Agreement of
This agreement brought together 11 countries to develop actionable targets to address air pollution. In furthering the Agreement on Air Pollution, we hope to repeat the success we have achieved with the ban of plastic carrier bags, and we look forward to global support in this effort.
I would now like to turn my attention to global multilateral matters.
Earlier this year, in June, all our countries attended the first ever United Nations Conference on Oceans in New York. Following the conference, we all came to better realize the pivotal importance of oceans and seas to our people, our planet and our prosperity.
Oceans, we now know, not only provide great value in maintaining life sustaining climatic conditions for all of us, but also provide enormous value in the form of the blue economy that can be tapped to help accelerate economic growth and fight poverty in all our nations.
Today, therefore, I would like to draw your attention to two important outcomes from Kenya’s engagement in the United Nations Oceans Conference.
First, Kenya has decided to bid for the hosting of the second Oceans Conference in In doing so, we look forward to your support and participation in the conference.
Second, the true value of the blue economy remains unrealized, especially by many developing countries. Therefore, building up to the Oceans Conference of 2020 to which I just alluded, Kenya is looking into the possibility of hosting a global conference on the blue economy, during the last quarter of next year, 2018.
It is our intention to work with interested nations, as well as the Special Envoy on Oceans of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and United Nations organizations.
I would like to extend an open invitation to other nations and organizations to join us and co-host the conference in order to help all of us explore and maximize on the full potential of the blue economy in our world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Even as we build up and expand our work on oceans and the blue economy, my country will remain steadfast in its commitment to promoting its work on the forest economy.
As you are all aware, next year at the High-level Political Forum in New York, SDG 15 on forests and life on land will take center stage.
Kenya, working closely with Brazil, China and Norway, will build on the work started here at UNEA 3, to further deepen its commitment and work on forests and life on land, for the betterment of the lives of all our peoples.
Five years ago in 2012, the world gathered in Brazil, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, during which it re-affirmed its commitment to the environment.
In the Outcome Document, The Future We Want, the Summit committed itself to strengthening the role of United Nations Environment Programme as the leading global environmental authority.
United Nations Environment Programme would set the global environmental agenda; promote the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system; and it would serve as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
Now, as then, Kenya remains wholly committed to strengthening and supporting United Nations Environment Programme to achieve this noble goal.
That is why we will increase Kenya’s funding to the organization in order to support its programmes. I would also like to encourage other member states to consider raising their voluntary contributions to help United National Environment Programme discharge its mandate effectively.
In keeping with the Summit dictates, my challenge to the United Nations Environment Progamme is to take steps to strengthen your headquarter functions.
This is particularly important because we expect a more effective, efficient and responsive organization, given the growing importance of your work.
I am certain that the renewed focus on reforms within the United Nations – led by the Secretary General – will also strengthen United Nations Environment Programme, and in particular, the urgent efforts being undertaken to consolidate its headquarter functions here in
Let me also welcome the planned expansion and modernization of the United Nations offices and conference facilities here in
These long overdue improvements will ensure that the United Nations Environment Programme and all the United Nations organizations and entities based in Nairobi enjoy a better and more modern working environment. My Administration will continue to support every effort of the Secretary-General’s reform agenda and modernization programmes.
Let me conclude by once again thanking you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, for sacrificing your busy schedule to attend this important Assembly.
I would like to wish you all great success in your deliberations and may the results of your work have long and lasting positive outcomes on our environment for a better future for us all.
It is now my pleasant duty to declare this Assembly officially open.