Nairobi, Kenya, 1 October 2018 – President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, speaking at UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi on World Habitat Day, called for urgent action to address the ‘enormous and growing’ problem of solid waste.

President Kenyatta urged every person to take personal responsibility for managing waste, which includes rubbish and other waste produced by individuals, communities, institutions and businesses. He spoke at the main global event of World Habitat Day known as the Global Observance, co-hosted by the Government of Kenya and UN-Habitat under this year’s theme, ‘Municipal Solid Waste Management’. “Solid waste management poses one of the greatest challenges of our time in a rapidly urbanizing world and we must take urgent action,” said President Kenyatta, who called for innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle over 2 billion tonnes of solid waste produced globally each year.

He commended the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, for her vigour, passion, and commitment to strengthening UN-Habitat as a focal point for sustainable urbanization and called for UN-Habitat to provide expertise and advice to Kenya and other countries.

The UN-Habitat Executive Director told the large audience that solid waste management was a theme close to her heart and an important priority for UN-Habitat, which was supporting cities to become cleaner and greener.

She announced the launch of a call for action for Waste Wise Cities, which was discussed further in the afternoon by a panel of experts.  “This calls for cities, towns and communities around the world to rethink, reduce, recycle, refuse and reuse waste and will provide the platform necessary to do so,” she said.

Ms. Sharif urged city administrations to play their part in helping change waste management behavior and to ensure waste pickers were integrated into the formal economy. She also spoke of the importance of working with the private sector and civil society organisations to find inclusive and effective solutions.

President Kenyatta presented the five winners of the prestigious UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour with plaques to recognize their work in improving urban communities.

The winners were: Mr. Isaac Muasa or Kenya, chair of the Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group, for inspiring community-wide involvement in environmental conservation; Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China, for its restoration and innovative waste management; the National Action Plan for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Cuba 2017-2036 by the Institute of Physical Planning; the late Dr Mona A. Serageldin of the Institute for International Urban Development, U.S.A., for her huge body of practical research; and the Mayor of  Surabaya City, Indonesia, Tri Rismaharini for implementing people-centred and inclusive city regeneration.