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Opening of the ministerial-level consultations - GC22

I am delighted to welcome all our distinguished guests and friends to the headquarters of the United Nations in Africa.

To the home of the United Nations Environment Programme here in Nairobi.

For this week of our Governing Council, the Kenyan capital truly is the Environment Capital of the World.

Africa is a continent blessed with young, creative and dynamic people.

They are full of hope, full of aspirations for themselves, for their communities and countries, for their Continent.

They have every reason to feel this way. Africa is blessed with a wealth of natural resources, a rich tapestry of wildlife and landscapes.

It has a past even more majestic and thought provoking than Europe's, North America's or Asia's.

For this is the birthplace of human kind, from which the human race took its first faltering steps and from which the world's cultures, so vibrant, inspiring and necessary, sprang.

But it is a Continent bearing more than its fair share of suffering.

From the Aids-HIV pandemic to the impacts of climate change and all the terrible, weather-related, catastrophes it is bringing.

Its wildlife, a source of wonder and of revenues from tourism, is under assault as are its forests and lakes.

This misery is fueled by poverty. If there is one a single enemy facing the world today, it is this one. Putting poverty to the sword should be our mantra.

But we meet here not in despair, but in hope.

We have, at the turn of the new century, all the resources---financial, scientific and human-to turn this ship around before we hit the rocks.

Rio was the promise. Johannesburg, Doha and Monterrey are the road maps, the blue-prints for delivering development that lasts and respects people and the planet.

We are here in Nairobi to make the WSSD Plan of Implementation operational.

The location could not be more appropriate. Kenya, our host country, has seen a new government sweep into power on a wave of popular support and with its own, evolving, blue-print for a better, fairer and more stable future.

Let us give them all our support.

So I welcome Vice President Wamalwa of Kenya and his ministers. Especially Environment Minister Kulundu.

I also welcome our distinguished guest from Senegal, President Wade, who is leading the new initiative for African development-NEPAD.

I am also delighted to welcome Nitain Desai from New York's Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

I must also welcome Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of our sister organziation, UN-Habitat.

I must give an especial welcome to our dear friend Walli Moosa, the Environment Minister of South Africa, without whose guidance and unfaltering inspiration, WSSD could not have had such a positive outcome.

And last, but not least, Essy Amara, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, who has been in the forefront of delivering a united Africa.

UNEP stands shoulder to shoulder with our African brothers and sisters to see NEPAD transformed from the drawing board to an operational partnership.

It is our obligation and our happy burden to help our partners here in Africa lift its 800 million citizens out of the yolk of poverty into a new century of prosperity.

It is not by chance that our motto is Environment for Development.

It is linked directly to the NEPAD and underlines the ownership Africa has in us, and we in Africa.

It is our duty, and the duty of our distinguished guests from all Continents, to make the Governing Council more than just another meeting five months after Johannesburg.

We most run up to the expectations of Africa's peoples for a new and lasting dawn.

We must make firm and clear commitments to resolve the issue of unsustainable consumption and production, we must harness natural resources carefully including genetic resources.

We must re-balance globalization and trade for the benefit of rich and poor alike to reduce poverty.

And finally we must heal the divisions that could, if allowed to grow and fester, tear all that we love dearest, all that we hope for most, apart.