Ruto to push climate agenda at UN world leaders meeting

President William Ruto addressing participants during the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi on September 5, 2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto takes the stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, where he is expected to present the country's strong position on climate change and global financial markets, building on his celebrated inaugural address last year.

In last year's speech, delivered days after his inauguration, he focused on the many challenges facing the world, including regional conflicts, the Covid-19 pandemic, the triple planetary crises, food insecurity and the rising cost of living.

Wednesday's address will be his second. It comes one day after the official opening of the high-level general debate, which will also be opened by host President Joe Biden in New York.

This year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) — an annual event that brings together representatives of member states and is now in its 78th edition — is themed: "Rebuilding Trust and Reinvigorating Global Solidarity: Accelerating Action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals for Peace, Prosperity, Progress and Sustainability for All."

In his inaugural address on September 21, 2022, Dr Ruto expressed concern about the health of the planet, which, he said, required urgent attention.

World leaders are expected to address a range of issues facing the globe, including peace and security, climate change, agriculture, universal health coverage and others.

Dr Ruto is also expected to chair a meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change.

According to State House spokesperson Hussein Mohamed, the global gathering will assess progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change, as well as debt concerns in the global south.

Mr Mohamed said the President will participate in a number of engagements on the sidelines, including a high-level panel discussion on sustainable ocean economies and bilateral meetings with global leaders.

The President's overseas trip comes against the backdrop of an outcry over inflation, especially after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority last week announced new pump prices, the highest in Kenyan history.

Speaking at the US-Africa Business Roundtable on Saturday, the President said Kenyans are innately resilient and able to compete with more resource-rich economies despite being in Africa, a region that is usually considered an underdog.

“At the heart of our entrepreneurial culture are the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the Kenyan people. I must not give the impression that we are all over the place trying to be all things to all people,” he said.