President of the UN General Assembly completes visit to Nairobi, Kenya where realizing the Sustainable Development Goals in the cities and human settlements and the role of the UN were center-stage
UNITED NATIONS, New York, 10 May 2017–The President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Peter Thomson, completed a three day visit to Kenya yesterday where he met with the President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and a number of Cabinet members in the Kenya Government, addressed the UN in Nairobi, participated in the UN Habitat Governing Council meeting and convened key stakeholders in preparation for The Ocean Conference.
In his meeting with with President Kenyatta discussions covered Kenya’s strong commitment to development of its blue economy and the leading role Kenya will undertake at The Ocean Conference next month. President Thomson expressed deep gratitude to the Government for its many contributions to the functions of the UN System, including in it’s role in peacekeeping. President Kenyatta highlighted the need for greater attention and resources to be given to the peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and South Sudan. President Thomson also met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Amina Mohamed as well as with the Minister for the Environment, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Water and Irrigations; and Minister for ICT.
The President’s visit to Nairobi underlined the role of cities in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. He addressed the UN Habitat Governing Council and discussed the upcoming High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the positioning of UN Habitat in that regard.
‘I am greatly encouraged by discussions at the Governing Council of UN Habitat. It is clear that action in cities is fundamental to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The time has come for cities to lead the way in becoming more environmentally and socially sustainable. It is also clear that the UN can play a crucial role in supporting cities, especially in developing countries, to move in that direction.’
The President saw first-hand examples in Nairobi of sustainability being integrated into the development of the city. Visiting Kenya National Park, the President said:
‘The efforts of the Kenya government to balance economic, social and environmental development are commendable. The recent ban on plastic bags is an example to countries right across the world and the preservation of the Kenya National Park within the boundaries of the city is a clear demonstration of the value of conservation and of the links between restoring our eco-systems, safeguarding human health and creating prosperous urban centers.’
Visiting the UN Headquarters in Nairobi, the President Thomson held productive meetings with Ms Sahle-Work Zewde, Director General of the UN in Nairobi, Mr Juan Clos, Executive Director of UN Habitat, Mr Eric Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. He also addressed the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the UN in Nairobi. During these meetings, the President heard of the critical role UN Nairobi plays in the broader UN footprint around the world:
‘UN Nairobi is the only UN Headquarters located in the global South. It is fundamental to the achievement of the objectives of the UN Charter and is a genuine expression of the universal membership of the UN, playing a key role in matters of environmental sustainability, cities and urban development and the advancement of regional peace and security in Africa.’
During the Nairobi visit, The Ocean Conference, to be held from 5-9 June in New York, featured high on the President’s agenda. Key stakeholders from Government, the private sector and civil society shared their take on how best to reverse the cycle of decline in which the Ocean is caught and set out some voluntary commitments that could be made to support the realization of SDG 14. The President noted:
‘African countries must be at the heart of The Ocean Conference and it is heartening to see Kenya playing a leading role in that regard’.
President Thomson was also greatly encouraged by his meeting with the UN’s Country team in Kenya and the many examples they gave of the SDG’s gaining traction in Kenya as well as how the SDGs are helping UN entities to operate in a more collaborative manner.
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