Head of UNEP and Kenyan Foreign Secretary engage students, civil society ahead of UNEA
Nairobi, 9 May 2016 - UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner today delivered a lecture entitled "Green Pathways to a Sustainable Future" at the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi on the role of the upcoming UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda.
Students, scholars and civil society representatives assembled at Strathmore Business School also heard an address and introduction by Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ambassador Amina Mohamed, who highlighted the benefits that UNEA's decisions can bring for Kenya and for the world.
"Kenya has every reason to be proud as the host of UNEA," she said. "The Assembly presents humanity with a chance to solve some of the most critical issues of our time - from the toxic air pollution that kills millions of people every year to the destruction of so many of the vital ecosystems that sustain each and every one of us," she added.
Ambassador Mohamed provided an overview of the pressing environmental threats that UNEA will address, including marine litter, which causes $13 billion of environmental damage annually; the waste of 1.3 billion tonnes of food per annum; and air pollution, which kills seven million people each year. She expressed her hope for Kenya to be the origin of sustainable solutions to these global problems.
"If Kenya is the cradle of humankind, let it also be the birthplace of a brighter future, a future driven by the understanding that, if we are to heal ourselves, we must first heal the environment around us. Let us base this future on the sturdy foundations laid by the work that UNEP carries out every day here in Kenya. And let this future begin in a few weeks' time when the world meets for UNEA."
In his lecture, Mr. Steiner placed UNEA in the context of the momentous global environment and development agreements adopted last year. "The 2030 Agenda has no parallel in its unprecedented ambition and in its integrated approach to tackling the challenges ahead," he said. "It is an acknowledgement from world leaders that individual national priorities need to be evaluated and managed in the context of much bigger global developments that have profound impacts and consequences for all nations.
"The 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda consist of 169 measurable targets that highlight the indivisible relationship between economic, social and environmental development; embrace the five pillars of sustainable development: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership; and virtually all have a connection to environmental management."
He went on to detail how UNEA can spearhead early action on implementing the 2030 Agenda: "UNEA will explore the latest global, regional and national developments across the rule of law, illegal trade in wildlife, ecosystem protection, ocean pollution, urban development, conflict, displacement and the economy.
"The 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement are ambitious, even daunting, undertakings. But UNEA is a bold move towards delivering them - for the planet and for each of you here today. Because this is not some abstract agenda for the rest of the world - it impacts and is impacted by Kenya," he concluded.
The lecture was hosted by Nairobi's Strathmore University, which, as one of the funding members of the Kenya Green Universities Network, is implementing low-carbon solutions on its campus. For example, the Strathmore Business School building, boasting a rainwater harvesting facility, solar-powered LED lighting and evaporative cooling units, had been recognized as the "Best Green Building Development in Africa" by the African Real Estate and Housing Finance in 2012.
Prof. Izael Pereira Da Silva, Director of the CERESD-Centre of Excellence in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development in Strathmore said: "We are glad that Mr. Steiner came to give his lecture on pathways to a sustainable future in a green building. My dream, which I am sure Ambassador Amina Mohamed shares, is that in the near future all buildings shall be green."
About Strathmore University
Strathmore College was started in 1961 as the first multi-racial, multi-religious Advanced-level Sixth Form College offering Science and Arts subjects by a group of professionals, who formed a charitable Educational Trust (now the Strathmore Educational Trust). In June 2007, Kenya's Commission for Higher Education approved the award of a charter to Strathmore University. Strathmore seeks to become a leading outcome driven entrepreneurial research university by translating excellence into a major contribution to culture, economic well-being, and quality of life. It is a part of the Kenya Green Universities Network supported by UNEP.
In May, hundreds of key decision makers, businesses and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society will gather in Nairobi for UNEA at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi.
The assembly will be one of the first major meetings since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The resolutions passed at UNEA will set the stage for early action on implementing the 2030 Agenda, and drive the world towards a better, more just future.