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UNEP Chief First Addresses First Session of IPBES Plenary Meeting

Nairobi, Kenya, 3 October 2011 Your Excellency the Vice President of Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka,

Distinguished delegates, members of the international scientific community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to Nairobi and to the headquarters of UNEP and a wide range of UN organizations and agencies dealing with technical, scientific and humanitarian issues locally, regionally and globally.

Let me thank the Government of Kenya for their ongoing support to this process and the governments of Norway, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and the European Commission for their important contributions towards this meeting.

Indeed this meeting and the hugely diverse participation would not have been possible without your support.

The Spirit of Wangari

I believe it is also appropriate to pay tribute to a great Kenyan, great woman, a great environmentalist, a great friend of UNEP's and many in this room and a real leader in the true sense of the word?Professor Wangari Maathai.

Meetings like this will sorely miss her cheerfulness, humanity, intellect, oratory skills and above all that downright dogged determination to not let the small things get in the way of the big picture and what needs to be done.

It is precisely that kind of spirit that should guide this meeting en route to the second and final session next year.

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