Second session of UNEA


  • Your Excellency Ms. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kenya,
  • Your Excellency Ms. Oyun Sanjaasuren, President of the United Nations Environment Assembly,
  • Honourable Ministers and Heads of Delegations,
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme,
  • Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
  • United Nations Colleagues,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,


On behalf of the United Nations community in Kenya, I am very pleased to welcome you to the United Nations Office at Nairobi for this second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly of UNEP.

This meeting is taking place at a crucial time, as we embark on the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I am sure that this session will make vital contributions towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 goals for people, planet and prosperity. This gathering will also provide strategic guidance for UNEP and solidify its role as the leading global environmental authority.

I wish to assure this Assembly that UNON will continue to do its utmost to service and support UNEP, as it pursues its mission to advance the global environmental agenda and promote the integration of the environmental dimension in our sustainable development efforts.

As you may know, UNON was created in 1996 to provide administrative and other support services to UNEP and UN-Habitat, not only at their Nairobi headquarters but for their offices around the world, as well as to provide common services to all the UN entities based on this UN compound.

UNON is the third United Nations Office Away from Headquarters to be created, after Geneva and Vienna. We remain the only UN headquarters in Africa, and indeed in the entire global South.

In addition to the global headquarters of UNEP and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UNON hosts a large and unique mix of UN entities including a dynamic Country Team for Kenya, several Regional Offices of the UN’s agencies, funds and programmes, as well as peace support operations mandated by the Security Council.

As the third largest duty station after New York and Geneva, UNON has become a key center for United Nations operations in Kenya, in the region, and around the world.

The more than 3,500 staff members who work on this compound have a special and unique opportunity to advance the goals and values of the Organisation, because of our proximity to the most vulnerable people the UN is meant to serve.

When I addressed the inaugural session of UNEA two years ago, I emphasized how UNEP, as the first UN body to occupy this beautiful compound over 40 years ago, remains the “heart and soul” of the United Nations’ presence in Nairobi.

That continues to be the case today, and it is in no small measure due to the leadership, passion and commitment of Mr. Achim Steiner, who has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to strengthen UNEP, fulfill its critical mandate, and help make Nairobi the “environmental capital of the world” that it is today.

As Mr. Steiner concludes his tenure as Executive Director of UNEP, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for all his energy, hard work and collaboration.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Kenya for its assistance with the organization of this UNEA, and for its continued support to the United Nations presence in Kenya as a whole.

I wish you all the best in your deliberations this week, and I hope you will enjoy your stay on the UNON campus.

Thank you for your kind attention.