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Uhuru launches accelerated National Tree Growing Campaign

President Uhuru Kenyatta today launched an accelerated national tree growing campaign with an assurance of Kenya’s commitment to combating the challenges arising from climate change.

Speaking during the launch at a presidential roundtable meeting on the accelerated national tree growing campaign at State House Nairobi, President Kenyatta said that the bold actions taken by the Government towards increasing Kenya’s forest cover are bearing fruits.

“We have increased our quality of seeds for seedlings production from 10 tonnes to 160 metric tonnes for the production of over 2 billion seedlings annually.

“I am happy to note that in today’s meeting we are already embarking on the ambitious but fulfilling journey of increasing Kenya’s forest cover to at least 30 percent by 2050,” President Kenyatta said.

At the same time, the Head of State said Kenya has established a global tree-growing fund with the Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

He said the fund seeks to secure USD 45 million that will deliver over 1.2 billion high-quality seedlings, enact a robust innovative forestry finance scheme, strengthen forestry governance and roll out a robust tree growing campaign that will enable the country meet its climate change action commitments.

He appreciated the support of development partners such as the Government of Japan which has already provided its support of USD 2.6 million through UNDP.

While formally unveiling the United Nations Sustainable Tree Growing Fund, he appealed to global and local partners to support Kenya’s efforts to undertake climate action that will ultimately save the globe from the perils of changing climate.

“This will follow up on the great commitments issued last year at the climate change Glasgow meeting where countries gave firm commitments to the forestry agenda. We are ready for the conservation business and we mean business,” President Kenyatta said.

Saying Kenya has made tremendous progress towards reducing land degradation and desertification, President Kenyatta emphasized that the country will continue to cement its leadership on the renewable energy agenda.

“Using our domestic initiatives and resources, we have a green and clean electricity grid with over 94 percent of our electricity coming from the renewable sources of hydroelectric, geothermal, solar and wind energy,” the President said.

He expressed satisfaction that Kenya is ranked 5th in geothermal energy production while its production of wind and solar energy is constantly expanding, adding that the country is on course towards realizing a 100 percent clean grid by the year 2030.

He appreciated the support that has been provided to KEFRI to not only expand its seed production, processing and distribution infrastructure but also to develop innovative technologies to accelerate restoration of the degraded landscapes through aerial seeding using air planes, drones, and seed balls.

The President also noted that the Government has demonstrated leadership by contributing to the global efforts that bequeathed to the world the Paris Agreement on Climate Change of 2015.

“To lead by example, Kenya has made ambitious commitments on greenhouse gas emissions, halting and reversing deforestation, biodiversity conservation, and land restoration,” President Kenyatta said.

During the occasion, President Kenyatta unveiled the National Forest and Tree Cover report, the Bamboo Policy as well as the Kenya Water Towers Status report among other Key documents on environmental conservation.

In his remarks, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko disclosed that currently the country’s forest cover is 8.8 percent while the tree cover stands at 12.13 percent and that the country has actually surpassed the target.

“This would not have happened without Your Excellency’s (President Kenyatta) remarkable unwavering support and leadership. It is the leadership that has given us energy, the strength and the passion and we are grateful,” CS Tobiko said.

On his part, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said coordinated partnerships are essential to mobilize sustainable finance from all sectors.

In a speech read by Principal Secretary Julius Muia, CS Yatani appreciated the UN for extending a grant amounting to USD 45 million (Kshs 5.2 billion) to support the UN joint programme for tree growing project in Kenya.

The roundtable meeting was also attended by members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), members of the diplomatic corps and development partners. KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki announced a Kshs 6 billion commitment from the private sector in support of the national tree growing campaign.

Other speakers included UN Country Resident Coordinator Stephen Jackson, UNDP’s Resident Representative Walid Badawi and Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Ken Okaniwa.  Later, President Kenyatta flagged off the national tree seedlings distribution programme that targets a total of 4,800 schools countrywide, TVET institutions, colleges and universities, the National Prisons Service, regional development authorities and county government.

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