President Uhuru Kenyatta to chair UN Ocean Conference in Portugal
President Uhuru Kenyatta will co-chair tomorrow, Monday June 27, the second UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon with his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and UN Secretary General António Guterres.
The conference, which is co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya, was originally scheduled for the year 2020 but was postponed to this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, aims to accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions based on science to the challenges facing the oceans. and the global marine ecosystem.
Speaking ahead of the Kenyan Head of State’s arrival in Lisbon, Kenya’s Ambassador to Portugal, Prof. Judi Wakhungu revealed that in addition to the UN meeting, President Uhuru Kenyatta will conduct a two-day state visit to the Portuguese Republic on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Our two heads of state will chair the high-level opening of the ocean conference with the UN secretary-general.”
“It is very special. It is historic because it is the first time in history that a Kenyan head of state has been recognized by our hosts, the Republic of Portugal,” Professor Wakhungu said in reference to the two-day state visit.
Ambassador Wakhungu said that although the global meeting has been postponed twice in the past due to Covid-19, Kenya and Portugal are ready to successfully co-host a UN ocean conference in 2022 The two countries were declared hosts of the conference following the 2017 inaugural United Nations Ocean Conference co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in New York.
“I have to congratulate Portugal and Kenya for staying the course, for their tenacity and finally for hosting this important meeting,” said Professor Wakhungu, who is also Kenya’s envoy to France, Serbia, the Vatican. and in Monaco.
The oceans cover up to 70% of the Earth’s surface and are home to more than 80% of all life in the world. They generate 50% of the oxygen needed by humans, absorb 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions and capture 90% of the heat generated by human activities.
As such, Prof. Wakhungu said the oceans are a key aspect of human life, stressing the importance of the conference not just for Kenya but for the world, especially now that humanity is increasingly facing the negative impacts of climate change.
“The main focus of the conference is on Sustainable Development Goal 14. All of the Sustainable Development Goals are linked, but 14 deals specifically with the oceans… Over 70% of the earth is ocean. We sometimes take this for granted, but it is indeed very important,” said Professor Wakhungu, adding that 30 of Africa’s 54 countries are maritime nations. Globally, there are 83 maritime nations.
Ambassador Wakhungu said Kenya has made the blue economy a key driver of its socio-economic transformation agenda, adding that the conference builds on the successes of the first UN Blue Economy Conference. sustainable development which was held in Nairobi in 2018.
“Kenya has signaled its intention for the blue economy to be an integral part of our livelihoods. We need to protect our marine life, maritime security is important to Kenya,” Prof Wakhungu said.
She added: “Our maritime training needs to be strengthened. Most importantly, we must protect our oceans from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, which continues to fail our marine ecosystems. But also very important, from an environmental point of view, we must expand our marine protected areas”.
Professor Wakhungu said Kenya was globally known for its green strategy which she said the country was developing to include the blue economy to expand its sustainable development agenda.
“We now combine green and blue. We signaled our intention to elevate the blue economy strategy to global standards when our President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, hosted the 2018 United Nations Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi,” he said. she stated.
During the two-day state visit, Prof. Wakhungu said President Kenyatta will lead a Kenyan delegation for bilateral talks with their Portuguese hosts during which several agreements will be reached and signed in areas such as tourism, l education and training, trade, culture, transport and communication.
“At the same time, we will also promote trade and investment between Kenya and Portugal. Our two countries have continued to strengthen and enrich their bilateral relations,” Professor Wakhungu said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Presidency of the Republic of Kenya.
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