RR Walid Badawi's Speech at the Presidential Roundtable on Forestry Actions Towards Stockholm +50

May 27, 2022

President Uhuru Kenyatta (R), UNDP's Resident Representative Mr. Walid Badawi (C) and UN's Resident Coordinator Dr. Stephen Jackson (L) during the unveiling of Kenya's Tree Growing Fund Campaign

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  • Your Excellency, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces
  • Hon. Keriako Tobiko – Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry
  • PS, Dr. Chris Kiptoo
  • Dr. Stephen Jackson, UN Resident Coordinator
  • My sister Carole Kariuki, CEO KEPSA

Let me ride on the protocols just delivered by our UN Resident Coordinator in acknowledging

  • Representative from the Private Sector
  • Colleagues and other multi-lateral partners
  • Representatives from Bilateral Partners
  • Representative from the Civil Society
  • Excellencies Ambassadors
  • Delegates
  • Distinguished Guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my singular honour and privilege, to join this High-Level Presidential event on Forestry Actions towards accelerating the attainment of the 10% national forest cover and the upcoming Stockholm+50 celebrations. This event has been made possible thanks to a strong multi-stakeholder partnership that exemplifies SDG 17 in action - Partnership for the Goals:

  • A partnership achieved under the leadership of the Government, and let me congratulate here, Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta as well as your able team led by Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and the Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo who have continued to steer Kenya’s environment, natural resource management and climate action agenda, professionally and passionately; the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is indeed our largest single government Partner and we have been through the trenches in Cherengany water tower where I managed to also highlight that my survival depends on what we do here.
  • Fuelled by the power of finance, innovation and acceleration of the Private Sector, thanks to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), the United Nations Global Compact and the captains of industry assembled in this room, and let me pay a special tribute to my sister, Ms. Caroline Kariuki, the CEO of KEPSA for the extraordinary mobilization of the Private Sector to date.
  • With the catalytic funding and coordinated support of the development partners, many of whom are here today ably coordinated by USAID as the chair of the donor group on the environment and where we as UNDP are proud to lead the Forestry Sector donor working group.
  • The normative role, impartial convening, de-risking of investment, access to international finance and provision of global expertise of the UN system.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,

We know the world was already not on course to reach the ambitious goals and targets of the SDGs, even before COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and the devastating recurring impacts of climate change. However, with some degree of Stubborn Determined Optimism, the right policy mix, innovative partnerships, coupled with collective and accelerated action, I remain hopeful that we can come close to achieving these goals.

In this regard, I wish to emphasize UNDP’s firm commitment to continue partnering with the Government and all other stakeholders in supporting Kenya’s ambitious and inspirational development trajectory by modelling a balanced formula that integrates these ingredients of success.

Let me take this opportunity to celebrate Kenya for just a few key milestones that have been achieved over the last five years alone in addition to what was and the great progress on the tree and forest cover:

  • We celebrate Kenya for her efforts towards a Greener and Cleaner Kenya, that is spurring massive reforestation and land restoration efforts nationally, as a pre-requisite for how the country is to bounce back better and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we see this in the Economic Recovery Strategy, the Socio-Economic Re-engineering and Recovery Strategy, and the evolving process for MTP4. 
  • We celebrate Kenya for doing more than her fair share to help combat the global climate change problem, being among the first countries in Africa to submit her Intended Nationally Determined Contribution 2015 and being again among the first to submit an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) update to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2020.
  • We celebrate Kenya, for establishing her Land Degradation Neutrality Targets which were submitted to the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD); and for playing an important role in strengthening climate security through your current leadership as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council.
  • We celebrate Your Excellency, Kenya’s significant milestone in completing the REDD+ National Strategy and Country Approach to Safeguards.
  • We celebrate you, Your Excellency, for your well-deserved appointment as the chairperson for the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) this year in my home country Egypt.  
  • We congratulate you again, Your Excellency, on your role as the UN Global Youth Champion and for putting in place a transformative youth-centric social-economic development agenda, leveraging the power of innovation as an enabler and accelerator of development.
  • We also applaud Kenya’s bold strides on devolution, which we see as radically improving the lives of Kenyans across the country.

In all these areas, and many more, UNDP has been privileged to play a modest role in writing this chapter of Kenya’s development history keeping youth firmly at the center of all our efforts.

Of relevance to today’s event, let me highlight the UNDP Climate Promise, which has supported 120 countries (including Kenya) to scale up climate ambition and to now move from pledge to action, drawing on our expertise and decades of experience on climate, environment, natural resource management and resilience. This is a major development as we head to the upcoming Stockholm+50 meeting happening next week where the world will be reflecting on progress made over the past 50 years. I wish to emphasize the role of Kenya as a global leader, currently hosting UNEP, a celebration yet an immense duty on the Country to continue to lead the environment agenda.

UNDP is also currently contributing to a practical approach of collaboration with different stakeholders in fostering a free, fair, transparent, conducive, and peaceful environment before, during and after the general elections. It is UNDP’s conviction that we will indeed continue to see Kenya safeguard the development gains, deepen democracy, sustain peace and stability as it transitions into a new Government, and cement Kenya’s recognition as a model for democracy in Africa, for the benefit of her people and others on the continent.

This also marks my last official engagement as the UNDP Kenya Resident Representative. From next week, Your Excellency and beloved Kenyan partners, I will be departing to New York to assume my new role as the Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Bureau for External Relations, and Advocacy (BERA), a recognition which has more to do with Kenya, than any personal achievement. As I physically depart this beautiful country, I leave a part of my heart in Kenya. With me, I will always carry Kenya’s story of success, inspiration, hope, resilience, and determination, amidst very challenging global times.

In the spirit of SDG 17, I thank all of you and welcome the Development Partners and Captains of Industry to join this Tree Growing Fund programme that we are launching today to enable the country to meet this ambitious goal of attaining and going beyond the 10% tree cover within the next few years. I wish to specifically thank the Government of Japan H.E. Amb Ken Okaniwa for providing early support to Kenya’s efforts through UNDP’s Forestry and Land Restoration Action for Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Programme that will undertake catalytic actions to restore and rehabilitate Kenya’s scapes which was made possible through global and regional collaboration with Japan, within the framework of our Climate Promise.  

Your Excellency, as I transition into my global partnership role within UNDP, I must acknowledge the many other partners that support our work around the world through the core and non-core contributions. Kenya, under H.E. Amb Kimani’s leadership, is a current Vice-Chair of the UNDP Executive Board and will therefore play a key role in UNDP’s global governance over the coming 3 years. Our new CPD 2022-2026, fully aligned to the UNSDCF, is up for approval and I am confident that this will provide a solid foundation for the next chapter of our cooperation with Kenya both here and globally.

As I close, and as CS Tobiko has said, we stand here on the shoulders of so many others that have worked in the trenches, and in this regard let me invite my UN and UNDP colleagues to stand.