Nairobi, 8 July 2021—The President of the United Nations General Assembly Mr. Volkan Bozkir who was recently  on an official mission to Kenya, visited the capital’s Michuki Memorial Park which was formerly a dumpsite and praised the UN agencies for their contribution to the project.

In his written speech, Mr. Bozkir said: “What we see here is the Urban Agenda in practice. Urban development does not need to come at a cost of protecting and investing in green urban spaces. In fact, the restoration, conservation, and management of natural environments will only enhance the potential of our future cities.”

The Park is one of the anchor spaces and is identified as an important part in the Nairobi River Regeneration Initiative (NRRI), a joint flagship initiative of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services and UN-Habitat. The NRRI is envisaged to breathe life into Nairobi’s rivers, support biodiversity and reconnect the city to her people. This is one of the initiatives under the Flagship 1 Programme on Inclusive Cities and Communities. The visit will shine a light on this new initiative and the added value of UN-Habitat.

The President  commended the role of the Government of Kenya in promoting the establishment of parks and green spaces throughout the city, in tandem with ambitious urban expansion and transformation.

“The goal of the River Regeneration Project was to reclaim the Nairobi river. To ensure the water is clean enough so that every resident on its banks could benefit from its resources. It was an extraordinary endeavour that brought together 17 different ministries and various stakeholders,” the President said.

He said that Kenya’s ban on single-use plastics in parks and protected areas was to be commended adding that in order to save the world’s oceans and support the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, all Member States and stakeholders need to support global efforts to do the same.

“This is needed now more than ever, given the mega-trend of urbanization. If urgent action on sustainable consumption and production is not taken, we could see avalanches of waste choking our waterways.

“The benefits of public spaces cannot be overstated. They promote conservation and climate change mitigation, they help to improve urban safety, recreation and livelihood opportunities, particularly for youth. Youth’s engagement in the regeneration process of Michuki can be a catalyst for their stronger civic engagement, with dividends for sustainable urban development for generations to come,” Mr. Bozkir said.

The President did a tour of the park and together with Government of Kenya officials present, planted trees to commemorate the visit.

In his speech Kenya’s Principal Secretary for State Department for Housing and Urban Development Mr. Charles Hinga said human settlements development in Nairobi have affected the river over the years with regard to its cleanliness, ability to provide water, and the link to pollution.

“In this period of the pandemic, we had the opportunity to revisit this relationship through clean-up activities under the National Hygiene Programme, also known as Kazi Mtaani. The Programme provided social protection to cushion youth against socio-economic impacts of restricted movement and containment policies to curb the spread of COVID-19. The program focused on various activities that promoted the wellbeing of communities through hygiene activities, such as cleaner riverine areas. It served to demonstrate the connection between riverine areas and sustainable human settlements,” he said.