Rio +20 high level meeting on rule of law and environment opens in Kenya

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—-A Rio + 20 From Outcome to Implementation high level meeting on the Rule of Law and the Environment has opened in Nairobi, Kenya, with the Zambian Government urging the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) to be fully involved in the preservation of the environment in various countries.

Speaking during the 27th Session of a thre-day United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council meeting being held at the UN headquarters for Africa, Zambia’s’ Minister of Lands Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Wilbur Simusa, said there is need to come up with legislation that will protect the environment.

Mr Simusa told delegates drawn Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States of America, and Middle East among others that regional bodies such as Southern African Development Community (SADC), Great Lakes region, together with the UN and AU, must help in the enforcement of the legislature that will help in the preservation of environment.

Mr Simusa, who was accompanied to the meeting by the Zambias’ High Commissioner to Kenya, Mary Zambezi, who is also the permanent representative to UNEP, and Permanent Secretary in the ministry of lands, Daisy Ng’ambi said many countries, Zambia inclusive, have good legislature on the protection of the environment but lack capacity to enforce them.

He said the world’s environment and natural resources risk being depleted if nothing will be done, adding that there is need to promote the sustainable utilization of the natural resources.

Mr Simusa observed that regional bodies, if they come up with agreements that will ban the entry of forest products from one country to another, will go a long way in the protection of the environment unlike the current situation where these products are allowed to cross the borders freely and find themselves in big ships heading to far places.

“Zambia, for instance, is losing one of its forest species called Zambezi Tick at an alarming rate. This timber product is being taken out of the country and this is why we feel there should be a mechanism to international police this so that it is stopped,” said Mr Simusa.

The minister added that Zambia was currently carrying out an assessment of the forest to determine the extent of forest depletion, adding that the programme, which is in Phase Two, will form the basis of the formulation of interventions to protect the environment and natural resources.

Speaking at the same meeting, Edward Harrison, representing the Government of Jamaica, said his country has devised a system that monitors the protection and sustainable utilization of the natural resources.

Mr Harrison said the office of the Attorney General plays a big role in ensuring that there is compliance to the laws formulated in order to protect the environment.

During this 27th Session of the UNEP Governing Council, the ministerial consultations will focus on emerging policy issues under the overall theme: “Rio+20: from outcome to implementation”.

The Council/Forum will also consider reports submitted by the Executive Director on a number of issues, as requested by the Council in its decisions adopted at previous sessions.

In addition, the Council/Forum will take up any other issues that may be raised by its members.

The Council will also consider reports submitted by the Executive Director on various issues as requested by decisions of the Council adopted at previous sessions.

During the ministerial consultations, ministers and heads of delegation are expected to engage in interactive discussions under the overall theme stated above.

It is envisaged that the discussion will focus on the three topics: Rio+20 from outcome to implementation; Emerging Policy Issues; and State of the environment.