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New Kenyan center will enhance environmental work

By Lucie Morangi in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-31 11:08

China and the United Nations Environment Programme have inaugurated an interim secretariat to oversee setting up an environmental cooperation center in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

The center, to be based at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, is expected to be a platform where green practices are promoted and the partnerships between China and African countries - including the private sector, research institutions and intergovernmental organizations - are all strengthened.

It will also provide tailored services to support member countries in achieving sustainable development goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda and the African Union's Agenda 2063.

This follows an agreement made during the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2015, to set up the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Sun Baohong said severe environmental challenges such as pollution, climate change and ecological deterioration are playing an increasingly critical role in shaping the global environmental protection agenda.

"The center will focus on South-South cooperation on environmental issues and adhere to principles of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. In our vision, the center will serve as a hub for environmental policy interaction and dialogue; a stimulator for the environmental protection industry, information exchange and technical cooperation; a platform for environmental personnel training and capacity building; and a catalyst for environmental project proposals and implementation," Sun said.

She added that the center will serve as an open, transparent and inclusive platform for all interested member states, international institutions and the private sector.

Sun said the center will drive the development of green sustainable projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI covers at least 65 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, 63 percent of the world population and about 30 percent of the global GDP.

"I think it will help in the harmonization of policies in different countries which will guide the development of mega infrastructures and align with global conservation goals," she said.

Joyce Msuya, deputy executive director of UNEP, said China and Africa have recognized the need for partnership under South-South cooperation. She added that China has many lessons to offer from its efforts in environmental conservation through the Beautiful China initiative. "The success of this center, therefore, would be through transparency, inclusiveness and effectiveness," said Msuya.

Beyene Russom, Eritrea's ambassador to Kenya, said Africa needs support and cooperation to meet global sustainability goals. "It is time that as developing countries, we become the drivers of projects that are aligned to our goals. We should be in the lead," he said.

Tom Omollo, political and diplomatic secretary at Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said there are many lessons to learn from China. "We need to build avenues that promote technology exchanges. It is important to note that China continues to promote the multilateral diplomatic system."

The formal announcement of the establishment of the center is expected to be made by leaders from China and Africa during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit on Monday and Tuesday in Beijing.


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