President Uhuru Kenyatta will co-chair tomorrow, Monday June 27, the second United Nations Conference on the Oceans in Lisbon with his counterpart from Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.
The conference, co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya, initially scheduled for 2020 but postponed until this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, aims to accelerate the adoption of innovative science-based solutions to the challenges facing face the oceans. and the global marine ecosystem.
Speaking before the arrival of the Kenyan Head of State in Lisbon, the Kenyan Ambassador to Portugal, Professor Judi Wakhungu, revealed that in addition to the UN meeting, President Uhuru Kenyatta will pay a two-day state visit to the Portuguese Republic on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Our two Heads of State will preside over the high-level opening of the ocean conference together with the UN Secretary-General.”
“This is very special. It is historic because this 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 despite the global meeting being postponed twice in the past due to COVID-19, Kenya and Portugal were ready to co-host a successful UN Ocean Conference in 2022. two countries were declared hosts of the conference after the inaugural 2017 UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in New York.
“I have to applaud Portugal and Kenya for staying the course, for their tenacity and finally hosting this important meeting,” said Professor Wakhungu, who also serves as Kenya’s envoy to France, Serbia, Vatican City and Monaco.
The oceans cover up to 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and are home to more than 80 percent of all life on the world. They generate 50 percent of the oxygen that humans need, absorb 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, and capture 90 percent of the heat generated by anthropogenic activities.
As such, Professor Wakhungu said that the oceans are a key aspect of human life, emphasizing the importance of the conference not only for Kenya but for the world, especially now that humanity is increasingly facing the negative impacts of climate change.
“The conference is mainly focused on Sustainable Development Goal 14. All the Sustainable Development Goals are connected, but 14 is specifically about the oceans… More than 70 percent of the earth is ocean. Sometimes we take this for granted, but in fact it is very important,” Professor Wakhungu said, adding that 30 of the 54 African countries are maritime nations. Globally, there are 83 maritime nations.
Ambassador Wakhungu said that Kenya had prioritized the blue economy as a key driver of its socio-economic transformation agenda, adding that the conference builds on the successes of the inaugural UN Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi in 2018.
“Kenya registered its intention to make the blue economy an integral part of our livelihoods. We must protect our marine life, marine safety is important to Kenya,” said Professor Wakhungu.
He added: “Our maritime training needs to be improved. Most importantly, we must protect our oceans from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, which remains a scarcity in our marine ecosystems. But also very important, from an environmental point of view, we must expand our marine protected areas”.
Professor Wakhungu said that Kenya was globally recognized for its green strategy, which she said the country was expanding to include the blue economy in order to further its sustainable development agenda.
“Now we are combining green and blue. We signaled our intention to raise the blue economy strategy to global standards when our President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, hosted the 2018 UN Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi,” he said.
In the two-day state visit, Professor Wakhungu said that President Kenyatta will lead a Kenyan delegation for bilateral talks with their Portuguese hosts during which various agreements in areas such as tourism, education and training, trade, culture will be reached and signed. , transport and communication.
“At the same time, we will also promote trade and investment between Kenya and Portugal. Our two countries have continued to improve and enrich their bilateral relations,” said Professor Wakhungu.