Kenya Set to Reap Dividends from UNEP Elevation

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Kenya is in line to reap vast diplomatic and economic benefits from the elevation of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) into a full-fledged international agency.

The change in Unep’s governing structure on Tuesday received the backing of the influential European Union just a day after President Mwai Kibaki had called on the United Nation’s governing council to resolve that the ‘green’ crusader be transformed into a specialised organisation.

“There is a need for change so that Unep can achieve all its objectives,” the EU commissioner for environment Janez Potocnik during a briefing at the Unep headquarters at Gigiri, Nairobi on Tuesday.

Mr Potocnik said the EU “fully supports” the upgrade, which is being pushed by the Africa Union and would make Kenya the first African country to host a UN specialised agency headquarters.

“Even without considering all the other advantages, that should be a national pride for Kenya. Politically, Kenya will have a direct link to the General Assembly of the UN making it quite a powerful force in Africa,” said EU director of internal affairs Timo Makela.

The elevation would also increase the membership of Unep from 54 countries to 193 countries.

“The status of a specialised agency will open a wide finance base for the Unep. They will now be able to raise and determine its own budget,” said Mr Makela, adding that this would benefit investors in green projects who work directly the programme.

The UN Treaties Collection Chapter three removes legal, financial and other restrictions on specialised agencies allowing them to hold funds or gold in accounts denominated in any currency.

The funds are also transferrable freely across countries and legal tender.

The president of the EU Committee of regions Mercedes Bresso said Unep would work with a council of subnational and local authorities to realise their plans.”

pecialised agencies draw up plans for implementation by members through recommendations to the General Assembly. It can also seek opinions from the international court of justice on its activities.

Unep is presently run by its governing council with its funding coming from the UN regular budget, voluntary contributions and designated trust funds.

The higher status would wean it off funding from the UN annual budget, which would be replaced by contributions from member countries.

Unep, which was established in 1972, would change its name with the World Environment Organisation and United Nations Environmental, among the tags being floated.

The matter will be discussed at the ongoing general council talks in Nairobi.

Source: Bussiness Daily Africa

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