President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday affirmed Kenya’s stand against poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife products as part of environmental conservation efforts.
He said the robust anti-poaching measures established across Government – from stronger legislation, to specialised legal mechanisms and upgraded enforcement – underscored the country’s resolve to secure the survival of iconic species like the elephant and rhino.
But, President Kenyatta said, no country can defeat the trade in illegal wildlife products alone.
“Global demand is strong enough, and the poachers ruthless enough, to require a joint effort if our security and heritage are to be preserved,” President Kenyatta said.
The President spoke when he opened the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) High-Level Segment at the United Nations Complex in Nairobi.
He expressed satisfaction that the High-Level Segment will discuss questions relating to the protection of wildlife as part of the global environmental conservation efforts.
“I trust that your decisions will improve our understanding of this crime; that focused and collaborative action to address demand will follow; and that the prosperity and livelihoods of the communities living close to wildlife reserves will receive urgent attention globally,” the President said.
The President emphasized the importance of environmental conservation in sustainable development and called on the delegates to build on the commitments of the Rio + 20 conference which resolved that environmental sustainability would be at the heart of national and global efforts to broaden prosperity.
“Your declaration on the environment will proclaim to the world that the United Nations Environment Assembly is here, and that the sustainable development we chose in Rio is indeed possible,” the President said.
He added: “I urge you to speak for us; I urge you to speak for the world on this critical agenda. The environment is our responsibility; it is the source of our wellbeing. The fate of our world depends on the quality of the care we give to it.”
The Head of state said Kenya is fully committed to the ideals which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established to pursue. He said the Jubilee Government would work closely with the global environment organization to enable it implement its mandate unhindered.
He welcomed the upgrading of UNEP – located in Nairobi – to its proper role as the premier global organisation for environmental matters, noting that the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was the fruit of the upgrading.
Saying Kenya has laid out ambitious plans to eradicate poverty and inequality, and to become a middle-income newly industrialized nation by 2030, the President said the Government’s approach to a prosperous future is driven by environmental considerations.
“That is why my Government is taking concrete steps to green our economy. We have an ambitious programme to revamp our five national water towers and tree planting in the entire country,” President Kenyatta said.
Speaking during the occasion, Prince Albert II of Monaco commended UNEP for being increasingly vocal in defending the environment within the United Nations – a role it has successfully played for over 40 years.
Prince Albert also paid glowing tribute to the late Prof. Wangari Maathai for promoting the environment, empowerment of women and peace.
Later, President Kenyatta held bilateral talks with Prince Albert at the UN Complex.