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UN environment assembly set to rejuvenate green agenda

30 May 2014, 07:55

Nairobi - The first UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) to be held in Nairobi in June will breathe new life to green agenda and sustainable development, senior officials said on Thursday.

UNEP Executive Director, UNEP, Achim Steiner told journalists in Nairobi that Kenya will host 1,200 delegates from governments, business and civil society to discuss new strategies to catalyze green and inclusive growth at the high level Environment Assembly.

"The UN Environmental Assembly will be a milestone and confirms that the international community is committed to realization of greener and sustainable development pathways," Steiner said.

He revealed that 140 countries have confirmed their participation at the UN Environment Assembly.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe, environment and foreign ministers will attend the high level summit.

Steiner noted that the convening of the first UN Environment Assembly was a confirmation that the sustainability agenda had come of age.

"For the first time, all 193 members of the UN, plus Observer States and major stakeholders, will be represented in the new assembly-thereby bestowing upon UN Environment Assembly a new level of representation, legitimacy and authority," Steiner said.

The upgrading of UNEP in 2012 led to creation of universal membership for the global environmental body.

UN member states mandated UNEP to organize the first Environment Assembly that will have a stronger mandate.

During the high level assembly, delegates will discuss critical environment themes like climate change, pollution, wildlife crimes and pollution.

"Now more than ever before, it has become increasingly clear that the dichotomy between environmental sustainability, economic and social development should be overcome through careful management of natural resources," Steiner said.

The Environment Assembly will discuss financing towards green economy, chemicals management and ways to halt biodiversity loss.

Steiner added that member states will focus on a post 2015 development agenda and outline action plans to stop illegal trade in wildlife products.

"Specific decisions will be taken to revitalize sustainable development goals and transition to green economy. There will be discussions on air pollution and movement of hazardous waste," he said.

The UNEP chief disclosed that over 50 side events covering a wide range of issues will be held at the Environment Assembly. Kenya has put in place adequate measures to host the UN Environment Assembly in June.

The Country's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Martin Kimani said that state agencies have finalized logistics to ensure the Environment Assembly take place without a hitch.

"The success of UNEA is high in our priorities. We are taking every measure to ensure the success of this landmark event," said Kimani

He reaffirmed the government's commitment to green agenda and sustainability.

"Kenya has made great strides in building a green economy as evidenced by our cutting edge geothermal development and the high percentage of our GDP from nature tourism," Kimani said.

 - Xinhua

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