By David Ngigi Munene
Represented by its Founding Executive Director, Allen Ottaro, and its Programs Manager, David Munene, at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa participated at the 137th UNEP CPR where it sits as an accredited Major Group and Stakeholder (MGS) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under the Children and Youth MGS.
In his report during the session, the UNEP Executive Director, Erik Solheim, provided a comprehensive brief of the past four months, ongoing and future endeavours of the UNEP. Key among these was the need to increase and enhance private sector engagement with the UNEP even as the environmental body continues to support governments. Erik also highlighted the global campaign against microplastics especially in relation to marine litter. He also reported on the continued endeavours towards simplifying language and reducing the use of abbreviations in an effort to enhance consumption of the resources produced by the UNEP.
During the interventions, the US appreciated efforts made towards combating lead paints and urged for additional efforts to ensure no more children die because of continued use of lead paints. The US also acknowledged the significant budgetary burden that the UNEP has to bear following the resolution to hold two United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) conventions in subsequent years. In this light, the US opposed all attempts at diverting funds intended for other purposes to supporting the UNEA3 budget. Instead, they called on the member states to support the UNEA3 budget.
On their part, Indonesia and the EU supported the adoption of pollution as the theme for UNEA3. Indonesia described the theme as timely while the EU underscored the importance of mitigating pollution. Angola supported the theme as well, but called upon urgent and fervent engagement of the private sector in combating pollution. Norway supported Angola on private sector engagement and further applauded the active role Erik continues to play networking with stakeholders. Norway also expressed specific interest in control of marine litter and micro-plastics and sought progress reports on the implementation of the GEO6 report. France pledged support for the priorities set by the UNEP Executive Director in September last year with respect to the Paris Agreement. Additionally, France reported on their evident support in the management of the Coral reefs. As an EU member, France pledged support for the UNEP in planning and stewarding UNEA3. Appreciating the formation of the Latin American and Caribbean Ministerial Forum to support UNEP especially with respect to UNEA3, Colombia offered to circulate the new altercations in the organogram to the member states.
Pakistan sought further clarification on how global publicity and visibility is being achieved and cited limitations of the Nairobi office in terms of networked communication. Pakistan also urged member states to expedite issues considering the time and structural issues besieging the progress. In ensuring such expeditiousness, Pakistan called for member states to avoid overspending time in discussing procedural and structural issues. At this point, the CPR president, H. E. Ms Julia Pataki, called for caution while commenting about the other headquarters such as Vienna and New York even while welcoming comments concerning such network centres. Iraq questioned the continued use of chemical weapons in their countries and called for a survey to ensure that the citizens returned to their homes. On behalf of the MGS, Abdulrahman of the Scientific Community and Technological Community questioned the proposals to structural alterations and the encroachment of the Nairobi National Park by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
Reacting to the comments, Erik underscored that the private sector engaged traversed companies and groups of companies. He cited the example of Google, which has pledged to go 100% renewable energy by 2017. The Executive Director also wished Iraq well, acknowledging that the UNEP is not the main actor in conflict areas although it can be enjoined as a contributing partner. Erik further reiterated that the proposed structural changes are minor and had negligible impact on the operations of existing member states and constituent CPR. In response to Pakistan’s concerns about communication and visibility, Erik explained that the UNEP remained on the positive side of ensuring the success of this endeavour. However, he reiterated that it was not within the UNEP scope to determine the operations of other headquarters.
The UNEP CPR is the Committee of Permanent Representatives that comprises all accredited UNEP Permanent Representatives and a subsidiary inter-session governing body. Its mandate scopes contribution in agenda preparation of the governing body, offering advice to the governing body on issue concerning policy, and preparation of decisions for the governing body in addition to overseeing their implementation. In addition to performing different functions that its governing body delegates, the UNEP CPR’s mandate also traverses promotion of effective means for facilitative participation of Committee members that do not reside within the country and especially those from developing nations.
David is the Programs Manager at CYNESA