President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday officially opened the third United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi where Kenya was praised for banning the manufacture and use of plastic packaging both at industrial and domestic levels.
The President, opened the third UNEA with a call for commitment from all countries in the world to copy Kenya’s example of banning the use of plastic bags.
“My advice is that nations should not heed the skeptics, who say that all countries cannot protect our planet better by banning plastic carrier bags,” said the President.
The President also urged the United Nations Environment Programme to strengthen its functions even as he announced that Kenya will increase its voluntary contributions to the world environmental body.
He also announced that after the plastic ban milestone, Kenya has embarked on organising a major regional anti-pollution forum.
The Government is organising to host the East African Framework Agreement on Air Pollution, building on the Nairobi Agreement of 2008. The Nairobi agreement brought together 11 countries to develop actionable targets to address 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, and we look forward to global support in this effort,” said the President.
President Kenyatta also announced that Kenya has started bidding for the hosting of the second United Nations Oceans Conference in 2020. The first conference was held in New York in June this year.
He said Kenya plans to organise and host a global conference on blue economy within next year as a build up to the Oceans Conference.
The President said Kenya remains wholly committed to strengthening and supporting the UNEP to achieve its noble goals.
“That is why we will increase Kenya’s funding to the organization in order to support its programmes,” said the President. “I would also like to encourage other member states to consider raising their voluntary contributions to help United Nations Environment Programme discharge its mandate effectively.”
The President of Guyana, David Granger, and the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Carmona, who spoke at the assembly praised Kenya for implementing the ban on plastic packaging.
President Carmona said through the plastic ban Kenya has become the hope for humanity.
“Nothing stops Kenya from becoming known as the hope of humanity just as it is known as the cradle of humanity,”
He said he learnt with admiration that the ban on plastic bags in Kenya has resulted in renewed growth in paper and jute industries in Kenya.
He called on UN Environment Assembly to come up with implementable resolutions that can guide humanity towards intergenerational equity.
“We should not be indicted by our children and our children’s children for polluting planet earth,” said President Carmona.
President Granger said pollution knows no frontiers and the actions of people in one corner of the world will directly affect those in other regions.
He said eradicating pollution requires information, education and communication strategies that informs all people about the fact that a clean environment is a right for all.
“A clean environment is a right for all and not an entitlement for a select few,” said President Granger.
UN undersecretary and Executive Director of UNEP, Erik Solheim, also praised the Government of Kenya for passing tough laws to control plastic use.
The conference will run until Friday.