By Eric Kabeera,
The Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Minister for EAC, Musa Sirma, has called for a review of the role of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to make it more effective.
Sirma noted that driving the sustainable development agenda in the UN system would require a transformation of the institutions spearheading these efforts, notably the Nairobi-based UNEP.
“The role of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) must be reviewed. UNEP’s progress has been greatly hampered by the limited authority and insufficient resources in responding to continuing and emerging challenges and issues related to environment and development,” Sirma asserted.
He urged the Rio+20 Summit to focus on delivering on the means of implementation to drive the sustainable development agenda, noting that there were several critical gaps undermining the fulfilment of international commitments.
“The Rio+20 Summit should unlock the provision of new, additional, predictable and stable financial resources. It should promote the strategic role of science and technology, including information technology and innovation through enhancing appropriate incentives, enhancing access and transfer of patent-protected environmentally-sound technologies,” he added.
Sirma also offered assurances of EAC’s commitment and determination in advancing global sustainable development, remarking that: “We have enough endurance to overcome our differences and sufficient strength to unite for the sake our common future”.
Meanwhile the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Richard Sezibera, echoed the Council Chairperson’s views on the need to transform the UNEP, saying it would “enable it to lead and effectively coordinate our efforts as we confront the pressures on the environment that global economic and population growth inevitably pose.”
The Secretary General observed that climate change is one of the major threats to sustainable development in the region, and informed his audience that the impact of climate change on livelihoods, in particular food and cash crops production as well as livestock development, is even more pronounced since East Africa depends heavily on rain-fed agriculture.
Agriculture contributes 40% of the region’s GDP and provides livelihood for 80% of the population.
Sezibera highlighted the broad achievements of the EAC, including the entry into the Customs Union and Common Market phases of integration; the ongoing negotiations for a monetary union protocol; as well as environment-specific successes such as adoption of an EAC Climate Change Policy.