President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday led the world in marking the World Habitat Day at a global gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in Nairobi.
The President presided over a gathering bringing together delegates from across the world and which was co-hosted by Kenya and Indonesia.
President Kenyatta opened the meeting with calls of solidarity with Indonesia which was recently hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Indonesia, who have been Kenya’s steadfast partners and friends since independence. May God rest the souls of the departed in eternal peace, and may he grant Indonesia the grace to overcome this tragedy,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said the world needs to find an effective way of dealing with solid waste because as urbanisation expands urban waste will continue becoming a bigger challenge.
“I am informed that across the world, municipal solid waste currently exceeds 2 billion tons a year,” said the Head of State.
He noted that the theme of the meeting “Municipal Solid Waste Management”, was timely. “Solid waste management poses one of the greatest challenges of our time in a rapidly urbanizing world. We must take urgent action,” the Head of State said.
While outlining recent government successes in the management of the environment, President Kenyatta said Kenya is proud to have a clear and detailed set of rules for the management of the environment and natural resources key among them the National Solid Waste Management Strategy (2015).
The President said the goal of sustainable management of solid waste is attainable because it dovetails with other global goals and Kenya’s own development objectives including the Big Four Agenda.
“I call upon the UN-Habitat to provide expertise and advice, not only to Kenya, but to other Member States so as to ensure the principles of housing affordability and adequacy are upheld in projects they implement,” said the President.
President Kenyatta later presented awards to winners of the 2018 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour. The winners included Xuzhou City in Jiangsu Province, China for promoting holistic and broad-based approaches to ecological restoration through intelligent waste-management.
The Institute of Physical Planning of Cuba was awarded for implementing positive urban and territorial change by integrating and implementing principles of the New Urban Agenda.
The Mayor of Surabaya City, Indonesia, Ms Tri Rismaharirni, was awarded for implementing people-centered and inclusive city regeneration and development initiatives prioritizing low income residents to ensure they are not left behind.
Mr Isaac Muasa, Chairman of Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group, from Kenya was awarded for harnessing the potential of disadvantaged youth and inspiring community-wide involvement in solid waste management.
A posthumous award was given to the Late Dr Mona Serageldin who was Vice President of the Institute for International Urban Development, USA.
The Executive Director of the UN-Habitat, Maimuna Shariff, said 2 billion tonnes of waste is generated on a daily basis globally meaning that each human being is responsible for one kilo of waste.
“Each of us play a role in generating waste meaning that each of us can play a role in reducing it,” she said.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyongo spoke at the function.