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UNEA-6 to build on the outcomes of the Africa Climate Summit

Health Opinion

In less than a fortnight, Nairobi will host the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6). With the global population facing enhanced threats of pollution and waste, biodiversity loss, and climate change, this year’s UNEA forum is more important than any other time before because of the spiraling inequality and poverty that threatens the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the world’s highest environmental decision-making body, UNEA can address these issues through collective thinking and global actions that focus on diverse aspects of the environment. Notably, UNEA-6 has singled out six thematic issues to be tackled through multi-lateral action including water security, the sustainable use of minerals, and pollution from nutrients, particularly phosphorus. This is encouraging because it will help build on the gains of the new era of multilateralism in which the environment now has similar prominence as other critical issues such as global peace, health and poverty.

Kenya is particularly thrilled about UNEA-6 because its deliberations will build on the resolutions of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi last September alongside the 2023 annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Africa Climate Week, during which the African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call-to-Action was agreed upon and unveiled.

The Nairobi Declaration, as the blueprint is popularly referred to, carries Africa’s climate action aspirations and has since become the continent’s main reference document at international fora including the 28th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai and the forthcoming UNEA-6.

At the core of the Nairobi Declaration, is Africa’s resolve to pursue green growth by leveraging her immense climate action potential in sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, critical minerals, and blue economy among others.

As Kenya, we are actively integrating the Nairobi Declaration into our national broad climate action agenda including reviewing our laws, regulations, strategies, and programmes to reflect Africa’s climate action priorities as documented in the Nairobi Declaration. For example, last year we successfully amended the Climate Change Act to provide for a more progressive carbon markets framework.

Following the recent public participation meeting, we are now at the tail-end of establishing regulations to back the Climate Change Act. We are also reviewing the Forest Act, the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, and its regulations among others.

Kenya’s first-ever National Forest Policy was recently passed by the Cabinet with its main objective being to provide a framework for improved forest governance, resource allocation, partnership, and collaboration. Further, last year, Kenya made history by recruiting, training and successfully deploying a record 2,664 forest rangers.

Kenya is also accelerating the transformation of its lineal waste management system into a circular economy. As a result, Kenya will hold a side event on the circular economy during UNEA-6 to appreciate the strides the country has made in implementing waste policies.

Ms Tuya is CS for Environment, Climate Change and Forestry

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