SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. MWAI KIBAKI, C.G.H., M.P., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 25TH SESSION OF THE UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL/GLOBAL MINISTERIAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM, UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, GIGIRI, 16TH FEBRUARY, 2009

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to address this forum of the 25th Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme.
On behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya , I wish to welcome you all to Kenya . We are happy to host you and I wish you a pleasant and rewarding time in our country.

Mr. President,
The global community is today faced with numerous challenges in the political, social, economic, cultural and environmental arenas. Environmental degradation continues to undermine the prospects of fighting poverty, and the realization of high economic growth and sustainable development particularly in many developing countries.

Conditions of natural habitats and fragile ecosystems have been deteriorating resulting in diminishing biodiversity, productivity of agricultural lands and increased environmental pollution, resulting in social disharmony.

Natural as well as human-induced environmental disasters such as fires, floods, droughts, earthquakes and landslides have become more frequent and continue to cause untold human suffering and economic loss in many parts of the world.

The world is now experiencing conflicts over natural resource use amongst communities on what each considers as a basic need and priority. Consequently, we now appreciate the linkages between conflict and the environment and poverty and governance.

To us and the global community, this is a wake-up call to seriously more than ever before, address environmental issues with great vigor in order to enhance and safeguard our environment for the present and future generations.

Mr. President,
I have confidence that under your guidance and leadership, and that of your Bureau, the Council will adequately deliberate on these issues and all aspects of the proposals, programmes and planned activities put forward by the Executive Director of UNEP. Let us all work towards ensuring that the outcomes of this session contribute to enhancing the global environment.

Indeed, the environmental issues facing the world are as a result of human activities. On the same breath the solutions lie with us. Today, the challenges related to environmental pollution, climate change and environmental governance have preoccupied discussions of the international community, yet the same have increased in magnitude.

Kenya like many other African countries is no exemption and faces formidable challenges presented by conflicting demands of economic growth and development on one hand and environmental sustainability on the other. This is the reason we have just produced in collaboration with UNEP " Kenya : Atlas of Our Changing Environment" that will be used as a tool in our national development planning process. I will be presenting a copy of this Atlas to you, Mr. President.

Kenya appreciates the various efforts aimed at integrating Africa into the global economy and welcomes the numerous partnerships that have been initiated between African stakeholders and the developed world. The Kenya Government sincerely thanks all stakeholders who have in the recent past entered into partnership with her. I urge the international community to work with us towards renewing our collective and individual commitment to the global partnership for sustainable development.

Mr. President,
Profound changes in our economic business practices and development co-operation are required. We need to move towards a green and low carbon economy, for this will deliver multiple benefits and ultimately result in achieving sustainable development that benefits all.

Strengthening environmental governance at the international, regional and national levels is a critical issue to all of us. Strengthened governance at the global level should first of all be targeted at improving and guaranteeing compliance with existing multilateral environmental agreements. A strengthened international environmental governance system is a necessary pre-requisite for effective implementation of all policies, programmes and projects on sustainable development.

It is encouraging to note that UNEP has already initiated a process of refocusing its activities, in order to meet the operational challenges. There is no doubt that the issue-oriented and integrated approach adopted by UNEP will bear the desired results.

Mr. President,
A predictable source of funding which matches the scope of environmental activities must be devised. New funding sources must be explored as a means of securing a sufficient and stable resource base. The developed countries must generously fund environment-related activities of the UN system at the bilateral and regional levels. They should do so, not because they use over 75 percent of the world's non-renewable resources, but they too have an obligation based on sustainability of the global resource base.

On their part, developing countries should take stock of the quality of their environment, even as they seek to implement ambitious development programmes. We must also strengthen our resolve to enhance environmental management capacities and the ability of our nations to invest in new and socially acceptable energy sources such as bio-fuels.

In conclusion, we should all bear in mind that the issues before us are many and that no single nation has solutions to all of them. It is only through a sustained national and international commitment that we can succeed. United for a common cause as we are today, we can make this Earth a beautiful and lovely place that God meant it to be.

Mr. President, I once again, welcome you to our country. I take this opportunity to invite you and all delegates to visit various parts of this land and sample the hospitality of the Kenyan people. The beauty of our country will offer you a lasting impression.
With these remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations and now declare this meeting officially open. Thank You and God bless you all.