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European Commission and UN Environment Programme Announce New Strategic Cooperation to Catalyze Green Economy

Nairobi, 23 February 2011—A wide-ranging new partnership aimed at furthering sustainable development in the 21st century was announced today by the European Union’s (EU) Commissioner for the Environment Janez Poto─Źnik and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. 

It builds on an existing partnership signed in 2004 which over the past three years has provided UNEP and the Multilateral Environmental Agreements—including those covering chemicals to biodiversity and for which UNEP  provides the secretariat--over €50 million (Euro)  for implementing close to 60 projects world-wide under the EU’s specific fund for the environment.

Today’s new cooperative statement, outlining a strategic partnership covering European Union funding from the European Commission (EC) to UNEP up to 2013, identifies key areas of joint activities including under the European Union’s “Thematic Programme for Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources including Energy”.

It also reflects the EU 2020 strategy on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth that dovetails with UNEP’s work on the Green Economy, the International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), of which the EU is a long standing supporter.

Mau Forest—Support for a Green Economy in Kenya
As part of this cooperation, a multi-million Euro project to assist in the restoration of the north western part of the Mau forest complex in Kenya was also announced by the EU, UNEP and the Government of Kenya.

The project, supporting the strategy of the Government of Kenya to rehabilitate one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest closed canopy forests, will contribute to maintaining nature-based assets worth an estimated US$1.5 billion a year to the Kenyan economy.

The project, details of which were unveiled during the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, will secure services generated by the flows of the Yala and Nyando rivers.

These rivers, which feed Lake Victoria and are important for drinking water, also support 5,000 hectares of rice production important for local food security and the Kenyan economy.

Mr. Poto─Źnik said today: “The EU and UNEP share many common priorities—from climate change and sustainable energy to environment and development. Sustainable management of natural resources, sustainable consumption and production and the Green Economy are among those key priorities”.

“Today we are also announcing support to the Government of Kenya, through UNEP, towards rehabilitation and restoring one of Kenya’s and East Africa’s key pieces of natural infrastructure. The Mau forest complex is a living example of where economy and environment intersect and reflects not only our cooperative work with UNEP, but the EU’s overall vision for a sustainable 21st century at home and abroad,” he added.

Mr. Steiner said: “The Government of Kenya has embarked on a remarkable transformation of its economy in which renewable energy and improved management of its nature-based assets are at the core of its sustainable, 2030 Vision, development path. Realizing that vision however requires the support of committed partners—and I would like to thank the Environment Commissioner for the EC’s commitment in the UNEP-Kenya partnership in support of conserving and restoring Kenya’s vital water towers”.

“The Mau forest complex is emblematic of the challenges, but also the opportunities being faced by countries across the globe. The new strategic cooperation between the EC and UNEP with funding from the EU will allow us to better meet the genuine aspirations of more and more nations towards their transition to a Green Economy,” he added.

Over the coming months the EU and UNEP will discuss and announce the precise funding arrangements and potential projects to be started under the new strategic cooperative partnership announced today.

The EU/UNEP/Government of Kenya Project
The new, over 2 million Euro project for the Mau forest complex is being funded out of the existing agreement. It will support world-wide efforts as part of the UN’s International Year of Forests.

It will cover the north west of the Mau forest where significant degradation of the indigenous forest, leading to conversion into grassland, has occurred due to unsustainable use of forest resources. Part of the project will tackle this issue through the establishment of wood lots for local peoples’ cooking needs

Meanwhile, industrial forest plantations in the area are also currently poorly managed.

The loss and degradation of forest in this part of the Mau complex is endangering a range of businesses, development initiatives and biologically important sites.

The area is the upper catchment of the Yala and Nyando rivers that both flow into Lake Victoria and provide water for rice production with a market price in excess of one billion Kenyan shillings.

The moisture and micro climate made possible by this portion of the forest are also critical for the important tea industry in the Nandi Highlands.

The area also supports river flows that are central to the success of a UNEP-Global Environment Facility funded project to reduce the electricity costs, boost power supply availability and cut greenhouse gas emissions linked with the tea industry.

The estimated micro-hydropower generation potential in the Nandi tea growing areas alone is estimated at 9.5 Megawatts.

The Yala and Nyando rivers also support key conservation areas, including those designated Important Bird Areas. Bird watching is a key part of the Kenyan tourism industry.

The Yala for example supports the health of the Kakamega forest and the Nyando the health of the Kusa Swamp.

Notes to Editors
The EC-UNEP joint statement signals a new approach for more strategic international programming, rather than on an individual project/case-by-case basis. The EC’s new approach is a pilot test for environmental funding where the EC will pass a financial envelope to UNEP. An agreement should be reached by mid-year as to the amount. The joint statement is intended to cover the 2011-2013 period.

The EU funding referred to in this new document concerns one particular source of EU funds, namely the 'Thematic Programme for Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources including Energy or “ENRTP”. Other UNEP projects are also EU-funded through different mechanisms.

For more information on the overall restoration of the Mau forest complex, please visit: www.maurestoration.go.ke

UNEP has partnered with the Government of Kenya since 2008 to bring awareness of the status of the Mau ecosystem.
The Government is institutionalizing management of the Mau and other critical water towers--aiming to establish a Water Tower Oversight Authority and  a Water Tower Fund.
The Government has initiated strong measures to halt the deforestation and illegal settlements in the Mau forest since July 2008.
Security and law enforcement around the Mau Forest has improved significantly.
Two major donor consultative meetings were organized by UNEP in 2009 and 2010 and chaired by the Prime Minister of Kenya and the UNEP Executive Director.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is now financing project interventions along the Mau Mara river catchment ( total cost about US$6.9 million).
The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) through two Kenyan institutions has undertaken a detailed livelihoods survey among the indigenous people of the Mau Forest (Mau Ogieks).
The EU-funded Community Development Trust Fund implements two community based natural resources projects in the South East Mau.
The Finnish Government is supporting the institutional strengthening of the Kenya Forest Service.
By last year, support to the rehabilitation of the Mau Forest and other water catchments areas in Kenya  was proposed in a  review of the EU 10th EDF Country Strategy Paper, with an indicative funding of €20 million.  
Kenya became an observer country to the UN-Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation programme (UN-REDD) in 2010. Kenya has also successfully completed a REDD Readiness Preparation plan (RPP) under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of theWorld Bank for the purposes of preparing a National REDD Strategy. The up coming EU- funded project in Northern Mau  will complement these REDD actions by contributing scientific data for the Mau carbon baseline and other REDD related assessments.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity www.teebweb.org

The International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management www.unep.fr/scp/rpanel/logo.htm

The 26th session of the UNEP GC/GMEF http://www.unep.org/gc/gc26/

UN International Year of Forests 2011 http://www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/

For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +254 733 632755, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Joe Hennon, European Commission Spokesman for Environment, Tel: +32.2.295.35.93, Mob: +32.498.953593 or E-mail: Joseph.Hennon@ec.europa.eu

EU Media Contact in Kenya: Wairimu Njuguna, Email: wairimu.njuguna@eeas.europa.eu
 

Wednesday 23 Feb 2011
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