, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – The Government has put in place measures aimed at ensuring sustainable natural resource utilisation in order to reduce poverty and abate continued environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
The President said a Climate Change and Coordination Unit has been established at the Prime Minister’s Office to deal with high-level political coordination of climate and environmental change through mainstreaming into the broad political and development agenda.
President Kibaki was speaking on Tuesday at the United Nations Office Nairobi where he officially opened the African Parliamentarians Summit on Climatic Change.
In addition, the Head of State said the Government had developed a forest master plan to restore degraded forest cover and quality of the environment that will cover the five major water towers in the country.
To enhance the supply of environmentally friendly and affordable energy in the country, President Kibaki said his Government is investing in the development of renewable energy technologies such as geothermal, solar-based, bio-fuels and wind technologies.
“These energy sources are expected to reduce over-dependence on fossil fuels which has impacted negatively on the environment through release of substantial amounts of greenhouse emissions,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State, at the same time, challenged legislators in Africa to lead the crusade against actions that lead to adverse climatic change.
The President said parliamentarians in the continent have the legitimacy to enact policies and laws aimed at ensuring a safe, healthy and sustainable natural environment that serves the needs of current and future generations.
“You should push for a global policy change, based on rebuilding the damaged ecosystems and communities,” President Kibaki said.
Noting that the path to greener world is not easy, President Kibaki asked the legislators to take aggressive initiatives to provide for the reduction of greenhouse gases and domestication of international and regional convention and protocols on climate change.
“I urge you in your capacity as political leaders to accept more responsibility in combating global problems associated with climate change. We count on your support, as success requires cooperation, networking and participation from all stakeholders,” said the President.
In this regard, President Kibaki urged African political leaders to work together in defining the continent’s agenda and destiny as they prepare for the global conference on climate which will be held in Copenhagen in December.
“The outcome of this parliamentary forum will be expected to strengthen Africa’s position on climate change in preparation for the Conference of Parties to be held in Copenhagen in December this year,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State underscored the importance of developing appropriate policies, laws and strategies that would conserve the environment.
He emphasised that African states should monitor the driving forces, pressure and impacts of climate change in order to develop appropriate response measures.
The President observed that domestication of multi-national environmental agreements required collaboration and partnerships among governments, relevant ministries, parliaments, scientists and civil society for just and sustainable environment.
Said President Kibaki: “As a continent, we should be fully involved in the climate debate and negotiations aimed at agreements to give us a fair and just deal that caters for our interests and needs.”
Noting that developing countries accounted for only 20 percent of the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions yet they suffered severe effects of climate change, President Kibaki said those responsible for the greatest greenhouse gas emissions should take the issue of equity more seriously.
The President, once again, pointed out that the ability of countries to mitigate the Climate Change effects is dependent on mechanisms put in place to address impact of Climate Change, noting that its impact has become a critical political, economic and social issue worldwide.
“The impact of climate change is mainly greatest on environment, agriculture, health, water, infrastructure and energy sectors. It has been projected that agricultural production and food security in many African countries and regions are likely to be severely compromised by climate change and climate variability,” President Kibaki observed.
In his address, the Executive President of the Pan African Parliamentarian’s Network on Climate Change Awudu Mbaya reaffirmed that the African position in Copenhagen Summit in December would be greatly influenced by the Nairobi forum.
He said: “The eyes of Africa and the world are directed towards Nairobi, expecting the outcome. We shall make or mar the African position in Copenhagen at this conference.”
Mr Mbaya commended Kenya for hosting the forum which, he termed as one of the greatest efforts aimed at supporting global commitment towards combating Climate Change which has become a serious threat to the survival of mankind.
The Executive President of the Pan African Parliamentarian’s Network on Climate Change asked parliamentarians to ensure that Climate Change is integrated into individual countries’ national laws for it to be managed without affecting nations’ path towards prosperity.
He said that African negotiators during the forthcoming United Nations Conference in Copenhagen must be guided by benchmarks aimed at achieving results that are fair, equitable and effective in the African situation.
On his part, Kenya’s National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende termed the forum an assembly of premier African leadership aimed at exploring means of mitigating effects of Climate Change as well as domesticating the concept in the African context.
The Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources John Michuki called for a strengthened and elevated United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Kenya.
Other speakers during the forum were the Summit Vice-President Prof Margaret Kamar and UNEP Deputy Executive Director Angela Cropper.