Kenya happy with progress of Rio+20

(Speech by President Mwai Kibaki during the Rio+20 Summit in Rio De Janeiro Brazil on June 20)

It gives me great pleasure to address this important and historic Conference. At the onset, I would like to thank President Rousseff and the people of Brazil for the warm hospitality extended to my delegation and I since our arrival here. I also congratulate you for successfully hosting this Conference.

Twenty years ago, Agenda 21 – the blueprint for sustainable development was adopted during the Earth Summit. The international community of nations has once again assembled in Brazil to secure renewed political commitment for the advancement of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
I wish to affirm Kenya’s commitment as we collectively endeavour to chart the way that will lead to a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

Since the adoption of Agenda 21, significant social and economic progress has been witnessed globally. However, this progress has largely been uneven, both in achieving goals set out as well as in fulfilling the agreed commitments.

It is against this backdrop that this Conference will focus its attention on the theme of a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Indeed, green policy options provide opportunities for increased and sustainable productivity, decent jobs, poverty eradication, environmental protection and economic development for the benefit of humankind.

Transition to a Green Economy should be inclusive as well as address the social agenda while respecting country ownership and different levels of development.

It is therefore important that policies supporting a Green Economy are devoid of trade barriers and conditions to aid for them to be feasible. Poverty eradication should also serve as an important indicator in formulating and applying green economic policies.

In addition, it is my hope that during this Conference, a formal process will be established to explore the options for establishing an international Sustainable Development Financing Strategy. This will facilitate the mobilization of financial and other resources to assist developing countries make the transition to the Green Economy more effectively.

As we approach the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline, I am pleased that that there is consensus to establish a formal process that will deliberate on the new Sustainable Development Goals.

This initiative will underscore our political commitment to economic development, social growth and environmental protection. However, the application of the new goals should take into account different national circumstances and priorities for the achievement of sustainable growth.
Equally, Rio+20 should provide direction on strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development. This will ensure effective implementation of green initiatives at national, regional and international levels.

To this end, 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.

My government is pleased with the progress that has been achieved here in Rio de Janeiro, particularly with the agreement to strengthen and upgrade UNEP. In this regard, certain key functions have been agreed upon. They include:

1. Universal membership in the Governing Council to strengthen UNEP’s governance;

2. The agreement to have increased and stable financial resources from regular UN budget and voluntary contributions; and

3. Consolidation of Headquarter functions in Nairobi; among others.
All these functions must be implemented as soon as possible in order to give effect to the will of this Conference.

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.

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.

In conclusion, I wish to emphasize the fact that the decisions we make during this Conference will have a profound impact on the future of sustainable development. Let us come together and agree to work towards a brighter, prosperous and more equitable world for present and future generations.

(Mwai Kibaki is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya)

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