(Photo Credit: http://web.unep.org)
The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, made a brief appearance at the UN Environment’s 4th annual subcommittee meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives on 8th March 2017, at which CYNESA was represented. In his remarks, Mr. Guterres highlighted the link between environment, peace and security, and sustainable development. He reminded delegates of the challenge posed by climate change, which is a major driver of the famine and drought situation currently being experienced in East Africa.
In Kenya, the drought has exacerbated conflicts related to resource use, between nomadic communities and farmers, as well as human wildlife conflicts. The situation has been particularly acute in the Laikipia region of Kenya. Water and pasture for domestic animals and wildlife is scarce, and it is now common to spot herders driving their livestock through urban centres like Nairobi, as they search for pasture. Prices of farm produce and staple foods have also risen, leading to a rise in inflation, while in a number of counties, severe famine has necessitated humanitarian appeals to avert malnutrition, hunger and death.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his message for the World Day of Peace, to these concerns. The theme of the message, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation”, is one that Pope Francis captures in the encyclical Laudato Si’. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that “Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all.”
During his visit to East Africa, Mr. Guterres visited Somalia where he called for international support, an appeal for $825 million for the support of 5.5 million people for six months, to avert famine and curb the spread of cholera. According to the UN News Centre, half of the Somali population is in need of assistance, including 330,000 children who are acutely malnourished.
Beyond the humanitarian response, long term climate adaptation measures in line with the Paris agreements, need to be implemented, as a way of building resilience in the communities, and that of the environment in the region.
Founding Executive Director, CYNESA.