Nairobi’s Lucky Year

Diplomat East Africa - - Table of Contents - By EDGAR NYANDONG

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

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