UN Environment Program spells out vision for green and inclusive growth

By Christine Lagat Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-5-10 21:03:22

Realization of a green and inclusive development is possible if nations prioritize regulatory and policy reforms, technology adoption and partnerships to achieve that feat, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said on Monday.

During a keynote address at a public lecture in Nairobi, Steiner noted that a shift to low carbon development was an imperative since it assured humanity greater prosperity and health.

"Decarbonizing the global economy through prudent legislation, policies and technology adoption is a defining feature of this generation. We need to reinvent our economies to make them greener," Steiner said. The UNEP chief was a keynote speaker at the public lecture organized by UNEP and Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs ahead of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) to be held in Nairobi from May 23-27.

Representatives from UN member states, multilateral agencies, private sector and civil society will attend the biennial event to discuss pressing environmental challenges like climate change, habitat loss and pollution.

Steiner said that nations will discuss new strategies to revitalize the green agenda in line with sustainable development goals (SDGs) during the global environmental assembly.

There is need for governments and corporations to retool their development models and realign them with sustainability agenda.

Steiner reiterated that shared prosperity could be realized if countries embark on sustainable production and consumption patterns.

"There is no denying that affluence or poverty can have a devastating impact on the environment. We need to re-invent our economies to ensure future development is not harmful to nature," said Steiner.

He decried rapid depletion of vital ecosystems such as watersheds, forests and coral reefs due to human actions.

"Brown development is a metaphor for pollution and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources like fresh water and arable land," Steiner remarked, adding that business as usual will be calamitous to populations in the Global South.

He added that the adoption of the Paris climate deal in December has inspired governments, corporations and communities to rally behind the green agenda.

"Policy makers, scientists, business and community leaders are now more aware of the benefits of the green economy since the adoption of the Paris climate deal," Steiner said.

He noted the global financial markets have gradually divested from fossil fuels having realized their devastating impact on ozone layer and human health.

Kenya will partner with multilateral agencies to inject fresh vitality into the global green agenda.

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Amina Mohamed said Kenya supports global instruments that advance green and inclusive growth. "As the host of the upcoming global environment assembly, we are in a unique position to raise attention to a range of concerns like ocean pollution, food waste and the depletion of vital ecosystems," Mohamed said.

The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency. The article first appeared on Xinhua. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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