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UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENTAL ASSEMBLY (UNEA2)

Benedetta Wasonga

The second session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2) took place on 23rd to 27th May 2016 at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi under the theme of “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The Assembly which represents the world’s highest-level of decision-making body on the environment culminated in resolutions and a global call to action to address the critical environmental challenges facing the world today. It reflected on the latest global, regional and national development related to the environment. It also provided the first global platform for reviewing progress on Sustainable Development Goals, particularly their environmental dimensions. 

 

The session was opened by the outgoing UNEA president, Oyun Sasaasuren from Mongolia followed by an official opening by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta on 26th May 2016 which brought together over 2000 participants from over 170 Nations, Heads of United Nations, Multilaterals and Bilateral Agencies, Chief Executive Officers, Civil Society and Private Sector under the call of “Healthy Environment-Healthy people”. Mr. Edgar Gutierrez from Costa Rica was elected the President of UNEA-2.

 

The forum majorly focused on the participating actors to identify concrete tools available to take an integrated and universal approach to the implementation of the SDGs, including those related to critical areas such as air equality, healthy ecosystems, chemicals, wastes and others that may emerge in the preparatory process as well as develop strategic, multi-stakeholder partnership to address ongoing and emerging environmental issues. 

 

Kenya presented her priorities through the African group which included illegal wildlife trade, natural capital, health and environment. Other agendas that Kenya was following included Chemicals and waste, Marine plastic debris and miro-plastics, strengthening the role of UNEP in promoting air quality, ecosystem based adaptation, achieving sustainability in the context of SDGs especially SDG 6,13, 14 and 15 which includes clean water and sanitation, climate action, life below water and life on land respectively. On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector and the civil society.

 

The Assembly was formed in 2013 through the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in March 2013 by changing the designation of the Governing Council of UNEP to become UNEA. UNEA thus enjoys the universal membership of all 193 Member States and the full involvement of major groups and stakeholders providing the platform for leadership on global environmental policy. 

 

SIGNING OF BILATERAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN KENYA AND FINLAND 

The role of forests is essential in both mitigation of and adaption to the climate change. The longstanding partnership between Finland and Kenya in forestry is a good example of a successful North-South partnership. Together, the two countries have stopped deforestation and managed to increase forest area and growth of forests to protect biodiversity, provide renewable material for economic use and increase carbon sinks. It is for this reason that during the conference, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Prof. Judy Wakhungu and Kimmo Tiilikaninen, Minister of Agriculture and Environment Finland signed a bilateral agreement between the two countries on climate action which aims at scaling up low carbon solutions to comparable countries.

 

INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND GOVERNANCE ISSUES

Kenya spearheaded submission and sponsorship of resolution 1/3 on illegal trade in wildlife. An annual report will be compiled to update the impacts analysis and broader areas of the evidence underpinning policy responses to the illegal trade in wildlife. Kenya also welcomed the proposal by UNEP to establish connections between the scientific and policymaking process with view of making environmental research and scientific information more relevant, and policy development and implementation more science based. It also commended UNEP on the progress made in the implementation of the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution 1/4 on science-policy interface and the fundamental role of science in sustainable development and better decision making, including environmental management plans.  

 

On Chemical waste, Kenya welcomed the implementation of the country led process on enhancing cooperation and coordination between chemical and waste conventions and the establishment of the programme on ‘integration approach to chemical and waste’ and the establishment of a secretariat and a trust fund and argued on its quick realization. 

 

RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED AT UNEA-2

Resolutions adopted during the assembly includes the Role and functions of the regional forums of ministers of environment and environment authorities, Investing in human capacity for sustainable development through environmental education and training,  Supporting the Paris Agreement, Mainstreaming of biodiversity for well-being, and Combating desertification, land degradation and drought and promoting sustainable pastoralism and rangelands amongst others.

 

KFS PARTICIPATION

Delegates from KFS included Emilio Mugo the Director, Monica Kalenda Senior Deputy Director, Head Forest Economics, EC Nairobi County among other staff. 

The service also participated in the planning of the meeting and development of the Country position paper. It also participated in the exhibition gallery which presented a greater opportunity to members of the public to engage in an in-depth, collaborative inquiry about the service. Delegates from all over the globe were hosted at Ngong wind mills.  The mill converts the energy of wind into rotational energy.

 

Minister of Agriculture and Environment Finland Kimmo Tiilikainen and Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources & Regional Development Authorities Kenya Prof. Judi Wakhungu during the signing of the bilateral agreement. 

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