Pollution: Countries in new deal to clean up the mess

The Flipflopi dhow before its historic voyage across Lake Victoria to  highlight the impact of pollution.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

President Uhuru Kenyatta has joined 63 other global leaders to tackle pollution as part of a pledge to halt the destruction of nature.

The President made the announcement on Tuesday last week, ahead of the United Nations Summit that will be held virtually from tomorrow in New York. The statement — the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature — launched virtually in New York last week, also committed to reduce deforestation and stop unsustainable fishing practices as well as check and dumping of plastics in the ocean.

Alongside France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and UK’s Boris Johnson, President Kenyatta committed to put wildlife fires and climate at the centre of Covid-19 recovery plans.

“Despite ambitious global agreements and targets for the protection, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity, and notwithstanding many local success stories, the global trends continue rapidly in the wrong direction,” read the statement.

President Kenyatta said: “We must reset our relationship with nature and secure a resilient carbon-neutral, nature-positive world; and therefore ensure the green recovery agenda is on top of our priorities.”

Caused by arsonists

The pledge came at a time when Kenya has been experiencing environmental crises and a series of fires that have gutted indigenous forests.

In 2019, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) had reported that due to the long dry spell, there had been severe forest fires around Mt Kenya, affecting Meru, Nyeri and Kirinyaga counties. The fires, KRCS reported, gutted more than “80,000 ha at that time, nearly the size of 150,000 football fields”.

In 2020, Kenya’s largest national park, had fires too, tragedies that the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) said were caused by arsonists. In early September, the United Nations said the world did not meet any target, for the second time in 20 years, to reduce the loss of the natural world. The UN also noted that the world had failed to reduce plastic and chemical waste to safe levels.