REFLECTIONS BY...

Honorine Kiplagat, former UNEP staff member

Highlights of my work in UNEP
I started working in UNEP in 1984 and my assignments were on NGO’s: 1985 was the International year of Youth (IYY); my aim was then to promote environmental awareness to the youth. I worked on the first Youth Environmental Agenda which was translated into French, Spanish and Arabic. That followed the establishment of Regional Youth Focal Points, two each per UNEP region. They are volunteers. Their role was to reach out to other youth organisations in their respective regions to embark on programmes/activities for the protection to the environment. A Youth Ambassador was also appointed. A number of workshops, training seminars on youth and environment were held in various regions and at UNEP Headquarters.

Success stories were published in “Young Action for the Future”. A number of youth organisations and young people were among the Global 500 Awardees.

In 1985, Nairobi hosted the UN decade on Women and Development, my role in UNEP was to prepare a programme for the NGO Forum held at the Nairobi University while the government’s delegates were meeting at the Kenyatta International Centre. The NGO Forum was chaired by Dame Nita Barrow of Barbados.

The UN Conference was chaired by H.E. Margaret Kenyatta. There was a special event hosted at UNEP Headquarters for official delegates and NGO’s. The Executive Director, Dr. Tolba addressed the gathering. Among those involved in the preparation of this programme event were; Joan Martin Brown, Françoise Belmont and myself.

After the 1985 UN decade on women, the issues on gender were very much on the agenda in the UN, Governments and NGO’s.

Another milestone in 1985, was the visit of Pope John Paul II to UNEP. I was also involved in the initial idea for the invitation of the Pope during his coming to Nairobi for the Eucharistic Congress.

In UNEP, I was involved in establishing the Gender Issues Board to ensure that gender was mainstreamed in all UNEP programmes. For the Beijing Conference in 1995, I was the contact person in UNEP. Various activities were organised at the NGO Forum in Huairou and at the official UN conference in Beijing. Among those involve in the preparation for the Beijing conference were Hanne Laugessen, Linda Spencer, Information and Public Affairs and myself.

Beside the youth programme, women and gender and faith based organisations; I was the Focal Point for the International Year of the Family and the International Year of Indigenous People. I made a presentation on behalf of UNEP in various International Forums on NGO’s.

As UNEP celebrates its 40th Anniversary, while there is still more to be done to save our planet, I see a lot of progress done by UNEP. For all the efforts and achievements so far,

Congratulations UNEP!