NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – President Uhuru Kenyatta will be utilizing Kenya’s participation in the 44th G7 Summit slated for June 8 and 9 to build momentum for the country’s inaugural International Blue Economy Conference in November.
According to Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, Amb Macharia Kamau, President Kenyatta is keen to take part in deliberations around climate change, oceans and clean energy, which are among the eight thematic areas that have been identified for this year’s G7 Summit to be held at La Malbie in Quebec, Canada.
“Because the theme that Canada has chosen is oceans and because we had already taken initiative before they choose the theme, they’ve invited Kenya to be at the conference,” Amb Kamau said on Tuesday when he briefed news editors of the International Blue Economy Conference set to hold from November 26 to 28.
“We expect that there will be an important conversation that will take place there that will help us create greater momentum and bring greater interest to our country during this conference,” he added.
Amb Kamau said Kenya’s invitation to join the seven economic powers at the July summit was a demonstration of confidence in its development agenda.
“We’re very excited about the G7 this year because they’ve sought to invite a handful of countries who they feel are begging to show signs of economic transformation,” he said.
The Summit will be graced by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump of the U.S., France’s Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy’s premier Paolo Gentiloni, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Britain’s Theresa May, and European Union Council President, Donald Tusk.
According to Amb Kamau, the foreign affairs ministry is seeking to raise between Sh 700 and 800 million to host the blue economy conference which unlike the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in July 2016, is not a UN-sponsored event.
He, however, exuded confidence in Kenya’s ability to host the event saying the government will act as the guarantor of the conference.
“We need to raise somewhere between $7 million and $8 million to undertake this conference and because it is not a United Nations conference, the government will be the guarantor,” he said while pointing out that Canada had sent $2 million to support the event.
“They have come and offered to have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work with President Uhuru Kenyatta to co-host this conference,” the diplomat who has previously served as Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN said.
Kamau said about 6,000 participants are expected to attend the event as a result of positive feedback received so far from nations across the globe.
He said a number of nations had expressed support since President Kenyatta announced Kenya’s intent to host a Blue Economy Conference to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 5 last year.
“There are many countries that are showing a keen interest to participate and we know our hospitality industry is up to the challenge to accommodate delegations attending the conference,” Amb Kamau mentioned.
In mobilizing for support for the blue economy conference, PS Kamau on Monday met the United Nations Country Team to which he appealed for close collaboration towards the forthcoming conference.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma also separately met the Ukraine Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, who is in the country of a four-day visit to mobilize for support.
Amb Kamau also briefed a group of Middle East diplomats led by Oman’s Saleh Sulaiman Al Harthi on the blue economy conference.
With Kenya keen on creating partnerships towards the actualization of the Big Four Action Plan, the two diplomats agreed to put in place a framework to establish partnerships in areas of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare.
While addressing UNGA last year, President Kenyatta had underscored the importance of not only harnessing the potential of oceans and promoting sustainable blue economy saying it was critical to achieving economic prosperity.
“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 realise the pivotal importance of oceans and seas to our people, our planet, and our prosperity,” he noted.
“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,” President Kenyatta further pointed out.
Kenya is expected to use the conference on the blue economy to position itself to host the 2020 UN Oceans Conference.