Kenyan President rallies for the oceans in Stockholm meeting

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta /CFP Image

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has underscored the need for urgent measures to protect and manage oceans in a sustainable way for present and future generations.

The President emphasized that the conservation of oceans, seas and marine resources can no longer be left out of the broader environment and climate change agenda.

“When we started this conversation that oceans needed to be part of our agenda or mainstreaming oceans in the overall environment and climate agenda, we did so because oceans are a very critical part of the livelihoods of millions of people across the globe,” President Kenyatta said.

Speaking on Friday during a high-level side event dubbed ‘Road to Lisbon’ on the margins of the Stockholm+50 international meeting, the President said Kenya is keen to take the lead and join the global action on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans.

The ‘Road to Lisbon’ side event, moderated by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb. Macharia Kamau, was part of the build-up of engagements to mobilize participation and enhance awareness for the 2nd UN Oceans Conference that Kenya and Portugal will co-host in Lisbon later this month.

President Kenyatta encouraged delegates at the Stockholm+50 meeting to partner with Kenya and Portugal as they co-host the oceans conference.

“For us, we see Stockholm+50 where we are today and we see Portugal where we shall be in a few weeks time as basically a road that is leading to Egypt (where the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held) in a few months.

“We see an Egypt that will not be a talk-show but hopefully an Egypt where all of us can stand firmly together and demand that those with ears and eyes but refuse to see must hear. We must have action if we desire to protect our future,” President Kenyatta said.

Speaking at the meeting, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss has plunged oceans into deep trouble that requires humanity to join hands and urgently address.

On his part, Portugal’s Minister for Environment and Climate Action Duarte Cordeiro said the 2nd UN Oceans Conference will, among other things, be a crosscutting universal forum to build a bond and create synergies to scale up action and support ambitious oceans-based solutions.

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans said managing oceans in a sustainable, firm and inclusive way will be a major step to reaching the 2030 agenda.

“The ocean is an ally in the fight against climate change. It hosts the solutions to poverty, food security and gender equality. And there is hope. Last year at COP26, we succeeded in integrating ocean-based action into the agreement,” Ms Ernkrans said.

Later, President Kenyatta met members of the Kenya chapter of the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force where he challenged them to take the lead in environmental conservation and curbing the challenges of climate change.

“My challenge to the youth is that they do not have to wait for tomorrow. The youth are leaders of today and we want to ensure their voice is heard because the decisions we are making today will have an impact on their future,” President Kenyatta said.