UNEP upgrade to make Nairobi world's 'environmental capital'

Monday February 4 2013

Delegates at a UNEP meeting in Gigiri complex, Nairobi on October 2, 2012. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

Delegates at a UNEP meeting in Gigiri complex, Nairobi on October 2, 2012. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI NATION MEDIA GROUP


A decision by the world leaders to strengthen the UN Environment Program (UNEP) is expected to boost the status of Nairobi as the environmental capital of the world, a UN official has said.

Nick Nuttall, Director of UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information told journalists in Nairobi that the upgrade means that in many ways Nairobi is now truly the environmental capital of the world.

"There is no more fitting way to demonstrate the unity of purpose that UN member states are now showing towards UNEP than a run that brings together Kenyans and peoples from all backgrounds and parts of the world in a display of solidarity for peace and the environment," Nuttall said when he announced that UNEP will host half-marathon to celebrate Nairobi as World's 'Environment Capital'.

The 21-kilometer race will be graced by some of Kenya's top and up-coming long-distance runners and will take place through the streets of Nairobi alongside the public, UN staff and the diplomatic community to celebrate universal membership of UNEP.

Organised by the Paul Tergat Foundation, Athletics Kenya and UNEP, with the support of the International Olympic Committee, the 21-kilometer celebratory run on February 24 is not only about this big boost to Kenya's global standing in international and environmental affairs.

Heads of State and nations meeting at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil last year agreed to "strengthen and upgrade" UNEP in its Nairobi home.

They also decided to transform its annual Governing Council from a membership of 58 nations to one of universal membership of more than 190 member states.

"The decision to strengthen UNEP at its headquarters in Kenya underlines how nations are increasingly recognising that climate change to the loss of fertile lands are now challenging the lives and livelihood of increasing numbers of people world-wide, but it also signals a fresh, determination to realise a more sustainable, Green Economy path," Nuttall said.

The race is also in support of The Sports for Peaceful Elections Campaign, started in January by the UN, the Sports Association, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Google Kenya.

UNEP's Clean Air Campaigns Patron Patrick Makau, whose time of 2:03:38 at the 2011 Berlin Marathon is the current world record, is supporting the run, as are Catherine Ndereba, former marathon World Champion, and Tegla Loroupe, former half-marathon World Champion.