Welcome remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director to Symposium on Climate Change Education and Sustainable Cities
Nairobi, 31 August 2009 - Hon. Njeru Githae, Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development, Excellencies, Hon. Wangari Maathai, Nobel laureate, distinguished colleagues from the UN Interagency Committee for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, ladies and gentlemen.
As the Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi and as Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, welcome to our headquarters here in East Africa.
Welcome especially to colleagues from UNESCO who are leading this UN-wide global initiative.
The theme of your Symposium, taking place before the Inter-Agency Committee meeting of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, echoes to the heart of the mandates of UNEP and its sister agency, UN-Habitat which is co-headquartered here.
I am also delighted that UNEP and UN-Habitat take the chair of the Committee for one year-climate change education and cities is indeed a challenge but also an opportunity for both agencies and the global public we serve.
We meet here in Nairobi less than 100 days before the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Here governments must Seal the Deal on a serious new agreement able to propel the world on course to a low carbon, resource efficient 21st century Green Economy.
Education, through schools and universities but also via civil society organizations, has a key role to play in achieving these goals.
And with half the world's population now urban-based and with the rest increasingly connected to the rural environment in a multitude of ways, cities will be where a great deal of that education will take place.
Meanwhile cities, by virtue of their fabric and density of populations, have always be places where the exchange of views and the fermenting of new, novel and transformative ideas have occurred.
Indeed it will be in cities where the innovative solutions to mobility up to energy efficient buildings and sustainable ways of working are and will be pioneered.