The United Nations Programme has challenged African countries to drop the notion that they can develop first before caring for the environment.
UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim yesterday said “there is no such choice to be made in the 21st century.”
He spoke during the Seventh Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment at the UN Environment headquarters, Nairobi.
“We want to take care of the environment because that is the noble practice,” he told delegates.
He noted policy formulation now has to take into consideration environmental protection.
He described ongoing negotiations aimed at reversing the current environmental status as “huge success.”
Solheim, who was accompanied by Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UN Environment regional director for Africa, said countries such as Kenya are endowed with renewable energy, and noted solar-based economy gives more jobs and cannot compete with coal
“Renewable energy is good for the people, good for matter earth and the planet,” he said.
Solheim said there are one million young people joining the labour market in Africa every month.
“They want to take care of their parents and they want to raise children.”
He said countries must, therefore, remain keen in adopting a circular economy.
On pollution, Solheim said there is need for countries to adopt clean transport means such as electric cars.
This, he said will curb pollution that is responsible for deaths caused by pollution.
Statistics from WHO show that there are 4.2 million deaths every year as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution.