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Remarks by Angela Cropper, UNEP Deputy Executive Director at the International Day of Biodiversity 2010 Celebrations at the National Museum of Kenya

Nairobi, 22 May 2010 - Assistant Minister; Environment Secretary; Agriculture Secretary; Director of Kenya National Museums; President of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity; Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity; Distinguished guests, delegates, citizens of Kenya; colleagues:

It is a pleasure to celebrate the International Day of Biodiversity at one of Kenya's most prestigious and important institutions, and one so relevant to the cause of Biodiversity, which brings us together today.

I thank the Director of the Museum for accommodating us here today.

It is entirely appropriate that we begin the day's events here. The museum states that its role is to "collect, preserve, study, document and present Kenya's past and present cultural and natural heritage. This is for enhancing knowledge, appreciation, respect and sustainable utilization of these resources for the benefit of Kenya and the world, for now and posterity."

Our own cause of Biodiversity might be stated in similar language. Events today, across the world, are our opportunity to refocus the global response to biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

Today is about recognizing and celebrating both the importance of the natural world - and as the museum aptly states - to enhance respect for its proper use and value, its existential value, as well as its essential contribution to human well being.

The theme of this year's International Day for Biological Diversity is "Biodiversity, development and poverty alleviation." Kenya is a country that has long demonstrated this nexus.

Africa, as a whole, has a long and rich tradition of benefiting from biodiversity.

Yet, Africa also finds itself in a paradox. Whilst this continent is rich in natural wealth, many of its economies are amongst the poorest in the world, facing difficult challenges in managing its natural resources while having to to meet the needs of an increasing population.

Here in Kenya, the possibility of losing the Mau Forest Complex would imperil services to industries such as tea, agriculture, hydro-power and tourism worth about $320 million a year, conservatively estimated. The Mau is not the only threatened forest in Kenya. Between 1990 and 2005 Kenya lost 5 per cent of its forest cover. Currently, forests cover only about three per cent of Kenya's land area.

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Further Resources

UNEP: International Year of Biodiversity

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

IUCN Red List website


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