, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 5 – At the third session of the United Nations Environment Assembly on Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged an increase in Kenya’s contribution to the United Nation’s Environment Programme.
He urged other member states to do the same in recognition of the important work done by the UN body in securing the planet’s future.
“This is particularly important because we expect a more effective, efficient and responsive organisation, given the growing importance of your work,” President Kenyatta impressed on his audience on Tuesday.
Taking note of the praise heaped on Kenya for its recent ban of plastic carrier bags, President Kenyatta encouraged other nations to also follow suit in this endeavour.
“My advice is that nations should not heed the sceptics, who say that all countries cannot protect our planet better by banning plastic carrier bags,” he said, the UN Executive Director Erik Solheim having exemplified just how pervasive the problem is.
“Back home in my nation Norway, very recently we had a whale swimming across the coast. That whale behaved very erratically and people shot the whale. In the stomach of the whale they found 330 plastic bags.”
The Assembly President Edgar E. Gutiérrez-Espeleta, put it this way: “Where there are five times as many microbeads (extremely small pieces of plastic) in the sea as stars in the sky, the scale of our responsibility and our challenge becomes clear.
Next on Kenya’s agenda, President Kenyatta continued, is air pollution which in a release on Monday, UNEP described as the “single biggest environmental killer.”
Solheim put the figure of deaths that result from air pollution at seven million, annually. “Fighting pollution is also about poverty. The world is not fair. The poorer you are,” he said, “the more likely you are to be severely affected by water pollution, indoor pollution and outdoor pollution in the big cities of the world.”
In response to which President Kenyatta said, his administration planned on building on the Nairobi Agreement of 2008 that brought together 11 countries in the formulation of actionable targets on air quality.
“It is now Kenya’s intention to move on to another major anti-pollution project. Soon, we will host the East African Framework Agreement on Air Pollution. In furthering the Agreement on Air Pollution, we hope to repeat the success we have achieved with the ban of plastic carrier bags,” he said.
This year’s UNEA is centred around pollution and seeks to ignite a global response to the problem by making plain the cost implications of turning a blind eye.