It was gratifying to witness over 4,000 heads of state, ministers, world’s private sectorcream of the crop, UN officials and civil society representatives gather in Nairobi at the third UN Environment Assembly to tackle the global menace of pollution. The assembly which run from 4thto 6th December at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi - the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment - brought together governments, entrepreneurs, activists and others to share ideas and commit to action.
“Our collective goal must be to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the President of the 2017 assembly. “Only through stronger collective action, beginning in Nairobi this week, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives.”
“Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. “That is as true for threats like pollution as it is for climate change and the many other environmental threats we face.”
A broader UN Environment policy statement, released ahead of the meeting, highlights the links between events over the last 12 months – hurricanes in the Caribbean and United States, droughts in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, flooding in Bangladesh, India and Europe – and the decisions we take about our ecosystems, energy, natural resources, urban expansion, infrastructure, production, consumption and waste management.
Mr. Solheim made it clear that all of the complex global processes linked to the environment, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, boil down to one simple message: we must take care of people and planet. Here in Kenya, the private sector has been actively involved in helping the World to achieve all the 17Sustainable Development Goals:
“At Optiven Foundation, for example, we unreservedly support the development of national policies that promote poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. We believe that we also have a critical role, as the private sector, to help promote synergies in the multilateral system and in strengthening the capacities of our mother-land country Kenya to comprehensibly implement internationally agreed environmental goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement,” notes Mr George Wachiuri, Optiven Foundation’s Chairman and Trustee.
“We are contributing towards the achievement of most of the SDGs. Most importantly and in regard to environmental protection, we believe that the private sector can play in even greater role towards amongst others things, Climate Action and Affordable & Clean Energy.
Given that Optiven’s mother company – Optiven Limited – is a leading real estate firm offering affordable real estate solutions in Africa, Mr Wachiuri notes that Optiven Foundation is keen on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, through offering affordable housing products to as many Kenyans and indeed Africans as possible.