Nairobi’s Lucky Year
The Kenyan capital took several body blows from terrorists and other criminal gangs in 2013 that left it bloodied but unbowed. But in 2013 the tide seemed to turn; Nairobi enjoyed the privilege of hosting over 1000 participants, 163 countries, 113 ministers who converged in the city for the inaugural United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in June 2014.
In total, 43 different meetings were held at the Assembly that saw the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon events come to Nairobi for its official inauguration as the World’s Environmental Capital.
This was the first such event ever held that brought together all the United Nations member countries to discuss environmental issues.
The ‘Group of 77 + China’ then held its meeting in Nairobi as a curtain raiser for the UNEA conference, that not only celebrated the 50th anniversary of the group, but also sought ways to establish convergence between the south and north so as to lobby for sustainable growth in the developing world,
Nairobi’s position was further bolstered by the Africa Sustainable Transport Forum in late October and bt the second visit world’s top diplomat, UN chief Ban, in less than six months. The UNEA forum featured 42 African countries, over 30 ministers of Transport and the Environment and more than 200 experts in the two areas.
Kenya also hosted the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who came to the capital with a giant smile and a bag full of goodies.
Ban made the two high-profile visits to Nairobi despite western countries issuing travel advisories against coming to Kenya. This proved that Nairobi has not only been lucky, but is of globally strategic importance.
Only recently Kenya hosted the first International Investment Conference which featured prospective investors from many parts of the world. It aimed to position Kenya as the preferred global investment destination despite the ever rising public service wage bill and troubled economic growth.
However, the fact that UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner affirmed that UNEP Headquarters was in Nairobi to stay during the UNEA conference, gave Nairobi a vote of confidence as the place to be not only for environmentalists, but for investors, expatriates and tourists.
“UNEP is not moving from Nairobi, and neither is the UN,” said Steiner, during the opening press conference for UNEA.
Nairobi should be comfortable in the fact that 2014 was a year that opened the gates for even more international bodies to set base here.
As an environmental capital, Nairobi can now influence the discussions that go on at the globally environmental matters, since it is highly likely that most of those meetings will be held here.
With more focus being placed on sustainable activities to shield earth from climate change by UNEP, and world leaders, and the $9.3 billion (Sh836.9 billion) pledge by 30 countries in a recent Berlin meeting as climate funds to help developing nations cut emissions and prepare for climate change, Nairobi may see a lot more activities in 2015.
Furthermore, 2013 and 2014 had other UN and UNEP events, which though not attended by Moon, set the stage for Kenya’s capital to claim significance on matters of environmental importance and sustainable development. The late 2013 week-long Global South-South Development Expo was one such event. Its theme revolved around building inclusive green economies and cooperation between countries of the southern hemisphere for sustainable development and poverty eradication
Only recently Kenya hosted the first International Investment Conference which featured prospective investors from many parts of the world