President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced the creation of a peace and environment award dubbed “Amani and Mazingira Global Award” as part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The President said the bi-annual award, which will be sponsored by the Government and the people of Kenya, will be given to persons or institutions that champion environmental sustainability and peace.
“It will be accompanied by a monetary award of USD 20,000 and the first awardee will be announced on the 1st of June this year, which is our Madaraka or Republic Day,” the President said.
The Head of State spoke on Thursday at the UNEP headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi, when he presided over celebrations to mark the 50 anniversary of the global environment body.
Held under the theme “Strengthening UNEP for the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the anniversary celebrations came a day after the conclusion of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5).
The President applauded UNEP for boldly championing the global environment conservation agenda since its establishment in 1972.
He said for over 50 years UNEP has galvanized collective action to protect the environment by progressively leading the world to understand the centrality of the environment in human existence.
“This journey has not been easy. It has required UNEP to provide technical, diplomatic and political leadership in the development of the core concept of sustainable development; and more importantly, to build ownership of these concepts at the national level,” the President said.
The President pointed out that it has required UNEP to define and enforce rules and procedures for protecting the environment such as limiting emissions of gases or stopping endangered species from becoming extinct.
“Through its scientifically driven agenda, UNEP has established a credible platform for countries to come together and act boldly to advance the global environmental agenda,” he said.
He commended the leadership of the United Nations and the UNEP family for remaining steadfast and focused on implementing UNEP’s core mandate.
President Kenyatta also singled out former Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN, the late Amb. Jowi Odera, for playing an instrumental role in ensuring that UNEP finds a home in Nairobi.
“Equally worthy of recognition is the first UNEP Executive Director, the late Mr Maurice Strong. Mr Strong played a central leadership role in defining the character of the United Nations Environment Programme and in leading the Earth Summit, which is recognized as one of the most consequential UNEP conferences,” the President said.
The President also paid tribute to the late Prof Wangari Maathai for championing homegrown solutions to combat environmental degradation.
At the same time, President Kenyatta assured of Kenya’s commitment to environmental sustainability, saying it is anchored in the country’s economic blueprint, the Kenya Vision 2030.
The President added that Kenya is proud to be the only UN headquarters in the global South, terming it an honour that the country appreciates and protects.
“Today, I am pleased to report that we will provide land for the development of humanitarian and logistics hubs in three locations in Kenya, namely Naivasha, Nairobi and Mombasa.
“We have further provided land for the creation of a diplomatic enclave adjacent to the United Nations Office at Nairobi complex,” President Kenyatta said.
To enhance efficiency in the administration of diplomatic privileges, the President said his Government has developed an integrated protocol management information system (IPMIS).
The system creates an automated one-stop-shop for tax exemptions, staff registration, issuance of diplomatic ID cards, registration and transfer of motor vehicles among other online services.
During the event, President Kenyatta invited the delegates to two key environment meetings – Stockholm +50 and the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon – which Kenya will co-host later this year with Sweden and Portugal respectively.
Speaking at the event, Presidents Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana) and Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria) commended Kenya for providing exemplary leadership in environmental conservation and combating climate change.
Other speakers included Morocco’s Energy Transition and Sustainable Development minister Leila Benali who is also the incoming President of UNEA 6 and UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.