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Kibaki pledges to tackle climate change

The UN member states were urged to urgently tackle the increasing threat to the environment as President Kibaki renewed calls for upgrade of Unep.

The President noted that Unep had a strategic role in tackling environmental issues and elevating it was vital to enable it to implement the numerous commitments reached over the years better.

Addressing the first ever Universal Session of the Unep Governing Council and Global Ministerial Forum in Nairobi, President Kibaki said the government would provide the necessary support to strengthen the organisation.

“The new universal charter of the Governing Council and Unep’s reaffirmation as the leading global environmental authority will provide the legitimacy and authority that was wanting in the previously limited membership,” he said.

He went on: “As a host country, I wish to reiterate Kenya’s commitment to provide all the necessary support to a strengthened and upgraded Unep.”

He also called on the council to adopt decisions that would help realise the spirit of Rio Outcome Document.

The President urged environment ministers to provide leadership “for attainment of sustainable development objectives as climatic challenges continue to grow in number and complexity”.

Various speakers acknowledged the forum as the second-most important UN event after the General Assembly.

The meeting brought together 193 environment ministers from UN member states and other stakeholders.

Unep executive director Achim Steiner urged the ministers to offer solutions which create jobs, expand access to energy, address food security, reduce poverty and enhance livelihoods.

“They have a mandate to protect the environment but increasingly their success will be predicted on their capacity to offer solutions,” said Mr Steiner, who is also UN Under-Secretary General.

The Nairobi forum aims at fostering a partnership involving governments, private sector, scientists and civil society to step up efforts to re-activate the green agenda.