President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday said that collaboration between countries, cities and communities is the key to ensuring a sustainable future for the world.
The President said the world has a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a model that is environmentally friendly and which allows maximum exploitation of resources both on land and in oceans.
The Head of State spoke at the global forum for Governors and Mayors, which was held on the sidelines of the ongoing Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being held at the Kenyatta International Convention Center.
President Kenyatta said the biggest question facing humanity is how to feed 9 billion people the world is projected to have in 2050.
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He said the easiest way of facing the challenge is to increase the resilience of communities as well as engaging in protection of the environment.
The President said the other avenue to deal with expected population challenge is to foster collaboration between different levels of governments and city to city partnerships.
He said three quarters of the world’s population lives in coastal cities and there was need to focus on their sustainability.
“Our grand vision should not be just about building cities and towns, but rather also about creating jobs and liveable neighbourhoods by our communities,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said actions should also be taken to minimise the impact of global warming especially on coastal cities.
He said one of the biggest threats to cities around the world is sea level rise, caused by the expansion of water at higher temperatures and melting ice sheets in the north and south poles due to climate change and variability.
“Scientists estimate that 275 million people worldwide live in areas that will eventually be flooded at 3C of global warming. Although sea levels will not rise instantaneously, the calculated increases will be “locked in” at a temperature rise of 3C, meaning they will be irreversible even if warming eventually slows down.
The President said the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference comes at the right time when governments and non-governmental organisations are realising the imperative to work together for a sustainable future for humanity.
President Kenyatta said Kenya has several towns along the coast, lakes and rivers, including two of the countries big cities. He said Mombasa and Kisumu, in particular, offer investment opportunities in renewable energy, tourism, fish processing and storage, maritime transport, and shipping among others.
He called on investors to take advantage of more opportunities available in water supply, sanitation and waste management.
“The National government and our counties have put together a portfolio of bankable investment projects of almost US dollars 1.4 billion in these areas,” said the President when he spoke at another forum for business and private sector also held on the sidelines of the conference.
He urged investors to engage with counties on projects under the blue economy sector and explore ways to collaborate.
“We look forward to enhanced collaboration between cities to cities, towns to towns, and with governments, international organizations and the business sector to sustainably grow our cities and towns,” said the President
He added, “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift increased urbanization on to a more environmentally sustainable and socially just path.”
The President called for a scale up in investments in blue economy but also cautioned that the health of water resources should never be compromised for short-term economic gains.
He said the Kenyan Government will continue playing a facilitative role that will enable private business to thrive by exploiting opportunities in the untapped potential of blue economy.
President Danny Faure of Seychelles said his country is committed to share its experiences on the blue economy with other African nations.
He said the hosting of the blue economy conference by Kenya was a sign that Africa has finally woken up to the reality of the wealth in its oceans and lakes.
“We are committed to work with the African Union to ensure there is synergy in development of the blue economy,” said President Faure.
The African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki, UN Habitat Executive Director Maimuna Shariff and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko also spoke at the governors and mayors forum.
The Labor and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani has said the government is discussing with development partners, with a view to increasing the allocation of cash transfer funds to the elderly.