The 12th Special Session of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) has opened in Nairobi. Dignitaries and officials from more than 100 countries are expected to attend the meeting.
The meeting was opened by Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and will run for three days.
The event will be the last global meeting of environment ministers before the landmark United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in June. UNEP will also hold several events during the three days to mark its 40th anniversary.
"We need an outcome from Rio+20 that will relate to the concerns of all; it must be clear, it must be practical and transformational, it should convince even the sceptics," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in a message read by UNEP Deputy Executive Director Amina Mohamed. "We must be prepared to take the decisions and adopt policies that will promote the long time development of our societies based on science and on the needs of future generations."
The ministerial consultations during the twelfth special session will focus on emerging policy issues under the overall theme of "The environmental agenda in the changing world: from Stockholm (1972) to Rio (2012)".
RIO+20, envisaged as a summit involving heads of state, comes 20 years after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 that set the course for contemporary sustainable development and established the climate change, biodiversity and desertification treaties as well as a forum on forests.
It also comes four decades after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment that led to the establishment of UNEP. Thus 2012 also marks the 40th anniversary of the environment programme of the UN.
2012 has also been designated as the "International Year for Sustainable Energy for All" by the UN's General Assembly. The year is aimed at creating an enabling environment for the promotion and use of new and renewable energy technologies.
3 News / Reuters