President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he will be taking the fight against trade in ivory to South Africa, a nation that is strongly opposed to destruction of illegal ivory stockpiles.
He said this move will be one of the many steps Kenya has taken “to secure a sustainable and resilient planet.”
“Our stand against poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is a critical part of our environmental conservation efforts,” he said on Thursday while addressing a high-level segment of the 2016 United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) at the UN offices in Gigiri.
Last month Kenya torched 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.3 tonnes of rhino horn, representing more than 8000 elephants and about 1000 rhinos.
South Africa will in October host the 17th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
President Kenyatta said he is willing to take the fight against trade in ivory and rhino horn to the nation which holds a divergent stance on the fight against poaching.
South Africa, unlike many other African countries, believes that legalizing the trade in ivory will drive down prices by increasing the supply of ivory. Lower prices mean less incentive to poach.
Also attending the second session of the UNEA conference was the UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, who commended the recent burning of ivory stockpiles.
“I must commend you, President, for this action,” he said, adding: “We should also be aware that powerful interests will not cede ground easily.”
Mr Eliasson acknowledged that the fight for sustainable environment will be an uphill climb, one that will require a lot of dismantling of “old traditions”.
“We must work in a much more integrated and horizontal way. The 2030 agenda recognizes the indivisible nature of the goals, this is encouraging. But we must redouble our efforts at prevention,” he said.
He noted that the USD20 billion spent every year in humanitarian emergency relief is a staggering amount compared to what would be spent in preventing environmental disasters due to human negligence.
Thursday is the last day of the second session of UNEA conference, which brought together hundreds of key decision makers, businesses and representatives of intergovernmental organisations and civil societies.
Several resolutions were passed at the conference, setting the stage for early action on the implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).