RIO de Janeiro, Jun 21 – The Rio+20 UN Summit in Brazil has rejected a proposal to transform the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to a specialised agency, thwarting a push that had been spearheaded by Kenya and several other countries.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development has instead resolved to strengthen UNEP’s role as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global agenda and promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system.
World leaders including President Mwai Kibaki had been lobbying to have the Nairobi-headquartered UNEP made independent and adopt the name united Nations Environmental Organisation (UNEO).
A dispatch from the Presidential Press Service said the Head of State had welcomed the partial gains made in the campaign.
“President Kibaki welcomed the decision to strengthen UNEP by, among other measures, establishing universal membership in the Governing Council to strengthen UNEP’s governance, ensuring UNEP has secure, stable and adequate financial resources from the regular budget of the UN and voluntary contributions to fulfill its mandate; and by progressively consolidating headquarters functions in Nairobi,” the dispatch said.
Following this agreement, it added, President Kibaki pledged the commitment of the Kenya Government to provide office and support facilities for the expanded membership of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council.
“On its part, Kenya as the host country of UNEP, promises to provide office and support facilities for the expanded membership of the Governing Council. We will build and avail such facilities within easy reach of the current UNEP offices in Nairobi as a way of enabling and facilitating full participation of all member states of the United Nations in the Governing Council,” President Kibaki said.
Underlining the need to implement the agreement as soon as possible, President Kibaki said the agreement should be regarded as only the first among many future efforts that must be taken to further strengthen UNEP and enable it play its rightful role as the authoritative voice for environmental protection.
“Ultimately, these steps will have to be complemented with the transformation of UNEP into a full United Nation Environment Organisation (UNEO), of equal status with other UN bodies in order to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development and to enable the upgraded body play its rightful role as the authoritative voice of the environment within the United Nations system,” he added.
On the theme of a green economy, President Kibaki said “green policy options provide opportunities for increased and sustainable productivity, decent jobs, poverty eradication, environmental protection and economic development for the benefit of humankind.”
The President, however, noted that policies supporting a green economy should be devoid of trade barriers and conditions to aid for them to be feasible, adding that poverty eradication should also serve as an important indicator in formulating and applying green economic policies.
President Kibaki expressed the hope that a formal process would be established to explore the options for establishing an international Sustainable Development Financing Strategy. “This”, said the President, “will facilitate the mobilisation of financial and other resources to assist developing countries make the transition to the green economy more effectively.”
Regarding development goals, President Kibaki welcomed the consensus to establish a formal process that will deliberate on new Sustainable Development Goals as the 2015 deadline for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches.
The President noted that the process to determine the successor of MDGs will underscore the political commitment to economic development, social growth and environmental protection, adding that the application of the new goals should take into account different national circumstances and priorities for the achievement of sustainable growth.
The President called upon the Conference to provide direction on strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development saying this will ensure effective implementation of green initiatives at national, regional and international levels.
President Kibaki has pledged that “Kenya supports the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council as the principal body for policy coordination and integration of the three pillars of sustainable development.”