[You are here: News > Press Release ]

Press Release

African Heads of State Mark 40th Anniversary of UNEP
30/ 01/ 2012

African Heads of State Mark 40th Anniversary of UNEPHeads of State from over thirty African countries have taken part in an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Addis Ababa / Nairobi, 30 January 2012 - Heads of state from over thirty African countries have taken part in an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held during the 18th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The luncheon was hosted by President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, who was joined by 33 African Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Environment from most AU member states, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and representatives of other UN agencies.
"Since its establishment UNEP has become the global voice on environmental issues", said President Kibaki.
"Through UNEP's leadership, many international agreements have been developed. It has also galvanized global action in areas such as ozone layer, climate change, chemicals management and biological diversity. It is my hope that UNEP will contribute towards a safer earth for humanity," he added.
"The African continent must play a leading role in protecting ecosystems and ensuring a healthy environment. It will continue to support UNEP towards achieving these goals," said newly-appointed Chairman of the African Union President Boni Yayi of Benin at the event.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo said that during its forty year history, UNEP had proved to be "a loyal companion of Africa".
He added that the forthcoming Rio+20 conference would be a crossroads for the continent and the international community.
"Rio+20 is an opportunity for Africa and for the world to establish the basis for a new beginning, with concrete actions which favour the transition towards sustainable development through the green economy and reform of the institutional framework of sustainable development," he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked President Kibaki for hosting the anniversary event, and expressed his gratitude to the people of Kenya for hosting UNEP in Nairobi since the organization's founding in 1972.
"Looking to the future, UNEP is a pioneer of the green economy, which will figure front and centre at the Rio+20 conference in June", said Mr. Ban.
"There is thus little wonder that calls are growing for UNEP to be given more global influence. Environmental, economic and social indicators tell us that our current model of progress is unsustainable. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course. From Rio+20 and beyond, I will rely on UNEP to continue to provide the cutting edge ideas the world so sorely needs," he added.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping said UNEP had contributed significantly to Africa's "ecological awakening" and expressed the continent's support for the transformation of UNEP into a specialized UN agency for the environment.
Mr. Ping assured that the AU Commission would continue its work to mobilize regional and international institutions in support of African positions and interests in the run-up to Rio+20 ? especially with regards to the forthcoming 3rd Intersessional Meeting in New York in March 2012.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner told assembled Heads of State that the decision taken forty years ago to host UNEP in Kenya has served to improve the world's understanding of the links between development and environment, and the importance of environmental services and natural resources in shaping the development path of nations.
"The world of 2012 is light years from the world of 40 and 20 years ago economically, socially and environmentally?not least in Africa", said Mr Steiner.
"Together with Africa, UNEP has evolved to meet the challenges of this very different world. Together, as a result of your collective leadership and vision and as a result of the Rio+20 Summit, we may be embarking on a new chapter of opportunities for not only Africa but the world. UNEP's 40th anniversary is on one hand about celebrating 40 years of history. But it may be equally a year of history-in-the-making and a date just as special as Stockholm 1972," he added.
The event came to a close with a cake cutting ceremony with President Kibaki, Achim Steiner, and Sahle-Work Zewde, Director-General of the UN Office at Nairobi (UNON).

For more information, please contact:
Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi), on Tel. +254 20762 3088 or E-mail: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Further Resources
Athletics Kenya
National Olympic Committee of Kenya
12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF)
UNEP's 40th Anniversary
Decisions, Resolution AND Declarations



University of Finland and UNEP - 12th Course on Multilateral Environmental Agreements
2-12 November 2015, Shanghai, China

The Special theme of the Twelfth Course is Climate Change.

2nd UNEP-INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee Conference
16-17 November 2015, INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, Singapore

At the 2nd ECEC in Singapore, INTERPOL and UNEP brought together Chief Executives from Environmental Security and Enforcement agencies from INTERPOL member countries, as well as Chief Executive Officers from international and non-governmental organizations, to design and debate strategies to tackle environmental crime and achieve sustainable development goals.

Annual Meeting UNEP- EUROCLIMA (EC Programme to support Policy Dialogue on Climate Change issues in Latin American countries)

Special session of the Commission on Environment of the PARLATINO(Latin American Parliament) on Climate Change law.

27-28 October 2015, Panama

Global Training Programme on Environmental Law and Policy for Mid-career Government Officials

05-13 October 2015, Nairobi, Kenya

Meeting of the Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law on Mid-term review of the Montevideo Programme IV

7-11 September 2015, Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo Programme Environmental Law Seminar: Laws to Promote environmental sustainability of oceans and seas
9-10 July, Panama City, Panama

Montevideo Programme Environmental Law Seminar: Legal Foundation for Environmental Sustainability

13-14 July 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Meeting of Eminent Legal Experts on the Midterm review of the Montevideo Programme IV

15-16 July 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Regional Training on Negotiations for Multilateral Environmental Agreements Focusing on UNFCCC and CBD as they relate to Regional Seas Convention
11-13 May 2015, Jeddah Kingdom, Saudi Arabia

Meeting of Climate Change Negotiators of Latin America and the Caribbean
14-15 May 2015, Santiago de Chile 

Regional Meeting of negotiators in preparation for Climate Change multilateral negotiators (exchange of views and discussion of key topics for the region towards COP21)

International Day for Biological Diversity 2015
22 May 2015

Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

This year’s theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.

Launch of The UNEP Sourcebook 

officially launched at a side event in the margins of Ramsar COP 12 - 8 June 2015, Punta del Este, Uruguay

The aim of the Sourcebook is to provide National Focal Points of the major Biodiversity-related Conventions as well as other stakeholders working on these conventions, with options to achieve enhanced implementation of the conventions through enhanced cooperation.

Preparatory Workshops for Paris UNFCCC COP for 2015 for Least Developed countries

June 2015, Bonn, Germany

Second Congress on Environmental Policy, Law and Justice Seminar on Environmental Crimes

6-10 July 2015, La Habana, Cuba

Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law(OAS website)
30-31 March 2015, Montego Bay, Jamaica 

The Organization of American States (OAS) co-organized the First Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law in Montego Bay, Jamaica, an event that concluded with a call to strengthen the rule of law on to address environmental challenges in the Americas.

Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development

4 May 2015, UN Headquarters, New York, Conference Room 11