Stockholm50: Time for world to start turning words into actions

 Factory smoke. [iStockphoto]

As the world looks forward to gather in Stockholm, Sweden from June 2-3, 2022 to participate in Stockholm+50 meeting that will be co-hosted by Kenya and Sweden, Kenya is particularly enthusiastic to witness the environmental trajectory evolving this year.

The objective of Stockholm+50 is to commemorate 50 years since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNEP) held in 1972, which led to the creation of the United Nations Environmental Programme. This meeting, therefore, is very monumental for Kenya as it provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the journey undertaken by our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in his pursuit for a healthy environment that led to Kenya becoming the global multilateral environmental hub hosting UNEP.

Stockholm+50 similarly enables us to mirror the sentiments made by our first president; the great environmental concerns that led to global leaders convening in Stockholm in 1972. The meeting will accord us a time to contemplate on what has been done so far to address the key issues that were of environmental concern at that time and take stock of the progress made, successes and challenges currently still in our midst in order to forge a realistic and strategic pathway for a sustainable environment.

The bold multilateral environmental action undertaken in 1972 has led many countries in realising the opportunities being provided by their green and blue economies. Thus, in the same breath, by recognising the importance of multilateralism in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution, the event will act as a springboard to accelerate the implementation of the UN Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, including the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement on climate change, the post-2020 global Biodiversity Framework, and encourage the adoption of green post-Covid-19 recovery plans.

The international meeting is expected to be mutually reinforcing to [email protected] a special commemorative session held under the auspices of UNEA5.2 in February 2022 in Nairobi, which led to the adoption of a political declaration that calls for strengthening of UNEP. The urgency of the environmental issues, places UNEP as the central body in which Member States and environmental stakeholders will turn to in seeking durable and timely solutions. It therefore remains paramount for Kenya, in her capacity as the hosting country, to reiterate the call for strengthening UNEP to ensure the planet is not at stake - conscious of the 1972 Stockholm conference provided us with a governing body that has ably provided us with platforms to deliberate on sustainable solutions for our planet.

It is now the time for the world to start turning words into actions and commitments into solutions. Progressive developments, however minimal, will enable countries to unlock their untapped opportunities in an effort to create resilient infrastructures. It is within these realms that the role of the multi-stakeholders such as multilateral development banks and private sector business communities are tapped, to ensure decisions made are all-inclusive and capture all key stakeholders who play a critical role in accounting to the health of our planet. Stockholm+50 assures that all the game players and change-makers will be convened to realise the transformative solutions for sustainable and progressive pathways.

As countries strive to recover and rest from the pandemic and global lockdown, Stockholm +50 provides a four-fold opportunity to rebuild relationships of trust for strengthened cooperation and multilateralism, accelerate system-wide actions needed to recover and build forward from the pandemic, including through innovative finance for an equitable recovery.

The meeting will therefore, offer Kenya an opportunity to explore areas in support of a healthy planet for example, making universal, the recently recognised human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Stockholm+50 also opens the way for accelerating actions to achieve the 2030 agenda and beyond a 50-year time-frame. It will complement the important spaces that have been created for discussing and resolving the climate, nature and pollution challenges posed to development and health. Explore untapped dimensions that could unlock green job opportunities.

The interlinked theme of Stockholm+50 to the themes of the recently held UNEA5.2 and [email protected], signals the need for continuity of the discussions until actionable solutions are realised and delivered on a whole global front. Towards this, Kenya endeavours to amplify the importance of leveraging on ocean action as a means of addressing the triple planetary crisis particularly climate change effects because, through this adaptation clean energy will be actualised and biodiversity loss will be phased down.

Connecting the dots of the previously held and forthcoming conferences is critical in monitoring the progress being made and Kenya aims to accelerate further actions from the outcome of Stockholm+50, during the second United Nations Ocean Conference set to be co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal, from June 27 to July 1 in which the oceans' opportunities will be explored to ensure sustainable blue economy becomes a reality in order to deliver on the SDG14.