NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – President Mwai Kibaki on Monday challenged governments to improve and guarantee compliance with existing multilateral environmental agreements.
He said that a strong United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was necessary for effective implementation of all policies, programmes and projects on sustainable development.
“Strengthening environmental governance at the international, regional and national levels is a critical issue to all of us,” the President said.
Speaking at the opening of a global ministerial environment forum at the UN headquarters in Nairobi, the Head of State said that a steady source of funding which matches the extent of environmental activities must be planned for the UNEP.
He said new sources of funding must be explored to secure a sufficient and stable resource base.
“The developed countries must generously fund environment-related activities of the UN system at the bilateral and regional levels,” he said. “Not because they use over 75 percent of the world’s non-renewable resources, but they too have an obligation based on sustainability of the global resource base.”
He said Third World countries must also strengthen their determination to improve environmental management and the ability of the nations to invest in new and socially acceptable energy sources such as bio-fuels.
“Profound changes in our economic business practices and development co-operation are required. We need to move towards a green and low carbon economy,” the President stated.
President Kibaki said challenges related to environmental pollution, climate change and environmental governance were a wake up call for environmental issues to be addressed more seriously.
He noted that conditions of natural habitats and fragile ecosystems had deteriorated leading to diminished biodiversity, productivity of agricultural lands and increased environmental pollution.
“Environment degradation continues to undermine the prospects of fighting poverty, and the realisation of high economic growth and sustainable development particularly in many developing countries.”
He stated that despite the issues of environmental pollution, climate change and environmental governance dominating discussions in the international level, the same had continued to increase in magnitude.
“Kenya, like many other African countries is no exemption and faces formidable challenges presented by conflicting demands of economic growth and development on one hand and environmental sustainability on the other.”
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner emphasised the need for countries to develop national environmental work plans for a green economy, which is improving efficiency in resource use.
“We can no longer ignore environmental issues, especially with the current global recession,” he stated.
Mr Steiner outlined six cross cutting priorities of UNEP, which are lined for implementation during the 2010-2013 Medium-term Strategy.
The sub-programmes included management of climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystems management, environment governance, harmful substances and hazardous waste as well as resource efficiency-sustainable consumption and production.
“The success of the priority programmes call for a new wave of thinking to address environment issues alongside economic development,” he stressed.
The five-day conference is attended by delegates from 146 countries.