, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – Kenya is committed to supporting the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) ambition to achieve a pollution-free planet.
While addressing the media on the forthcoming United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting to be held in Nairobi beginning Monday, Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said the government will provide leadership on reducing air pollution through the adoption of mitigating strategies.
“This spectacular gathering of high-level policy makers and global experts on environmental management positions Kenya in the global leadership of sustainable management of the environment,” Wakhungu said at Harambee House on Friday.
She said the assembly which will see over 7,000 delegates from over 100 nations attend will aim at solutions to environmental challenges posed by pollution.
Already, she said, 2,000 delegates were attending pre-UNEA discussions aimed at refining the agenda for the meeting to be attended by environment ministers of member countries.
UNEA has a universal membership of all the 193 UN Members States.
“Kenya is committed to supporting the work of the UN and desires to maintain Nairobi’s position as the central hub of the UNEP,” said Wakhungu.
“The government recognises the need to stop pollution from all sources and has instituted and implemented a wide range of policy and regulatory measures to eradicate pollution on air, land, and marine,” she added.
The forum will be the third Kenya is hosting having hosted the first and second UNEA in 2014 and 2016.
Among the pre-UNEA forums held in Nairobi ahead of the global event include a stakeholder’s forum with civil societies, which ran between November 27, and 28.
The Committee of Permanent Representatives met on Wednesday last week.
The UN Global Science-Policy-Business Forum on the environment which aims at identifying and promoting opportunities for science and technology-driven green investment takes place on Saturday and Sunday.
The forum will also look at empowering policies and innovative financing for such investments.
The Sustainable Innovation Expo will kick off on Sunday and is scheduled to continue on the sidelines of the Assembly.
Other than complementing high-profile discussions at the UNEA, the expo will aim at showcasing science’s role in problem-solving as well as stir up critical thinking among participants.
The Environment Management Group Nexus Dialogue on pollution, Cities and health co-hosted by the United Nations Environment Management Group, UN Environment, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, will also take place on Sunday.
The dialogue will focus on among other areas the importance of tackling health risks from the air, water, and solid waste pollution through multi-sectoral approaches.
Current UN statistics show that 6.5 million people die annually from pollution-related illnesses around the globe.
Data also shows that lead poisoning of children cots the world some $977 every year.
An estimated 25 million agricultural workers are also said to experiences unintentional pesticide poisoning, pesticides listed among pollutants.
Marine littering has also been identified as the key challenge with 100 per cent sea turtles said to have consumed it.
Statistics also show that a whopping eighty per cent of wastewater enters the environment without treatment.
A third of food produced worldwide also goes to waste.
Locally, the government recently introduced measures aimed at curbing some of the causes of pollution, the National Environment Authority (NEMA) introducing a ban on carrier plastic bag in February this year.
The ban took effect in October after the High Court declined an application by Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) to halt the ban.
Environment CS Wakhungu said during her media briefing on Friday that some sixty arrests have been made since the ban.
She said more efforts were being put in place to enforce the ban and ensure strict compliance to set regulations.
“You can see the ban has been effective although we still have cases of people contravening the law,” she said promising heightened efforts.
Wakhungu said the ministry had drafted a policy document which had been forwarded to Parliament whose adoption she said will enhance the current waste management framework.
“Solid waste management is devolved but the ministry has a solid waste management policy which once approved will facilitate a stakeholders engagement to improve garbage disposal and create for the disposal of solid waste in solitary land fields,” she said.