France on Wednesday supported Kenya's effort for the retention and upgrading of the Nairobi- based UN Environmental Program (UNEP) headquarters into a fully- fledged UN organization.
Visiting French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said there was need to strengthen UNEP so that it is equipped with enhanced capacity to deal with environmental issues.
"It will be a big mistake if we move the UNEP because we want it to stay in Nairobi and make it a big UN organization. It would be strange when we say that we strengthen institutions of environmental governance and weaken UNEP. We need to strengthen it, " Kosciusko-Morizet told journalists during a meeting with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Nairobi.
She said there was a mix-up on the issue, pointing out that the UN environmental agency should be strengthened to that it has capacity to deal with environmental matters effectively.
"UNEP should be strengthened. UNEP is to stay in Nairobi..it would be a big mistake and wrong reason to move it," said Kosciusko-Morizet who is in Nairobi for a week-long UNEP Governing Council meeting.
The minister also announced monetary support in the areas of climate change and renewable energy, noting that her country has already committed 1.2 billion U. S. dollars towards several projects on renewable energy.
The areas to benefit include financing of Olkaria I and IV geothermal power plants, financing of waste management and capacity development at Geothermal Development Corporation. In 2010, France provided 200 million euros for a similar project.
The funds will also be used to finance waste management and other urban development projects in Kenya and technical assistance for the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Environment.
The projects are being implemented under the Kenya-France global partnership on renewable energy.
Speaking during the meeting, Odinga expressed hope that the international community will listen to Kenya's call not only to elevate UNEP but also to establish a fully fledged global environmental organization in the country.
He said the East African nation is working with France on areas of climate change particularly on the area of renewable energy.
"In our meeting (with Kosciusko-Morizet), we briefly reviewed the broad range of our cooperation in the area of climate change and renewable energy,"Odinga said.
The premier said the government was pleased with the progress in implementing the development projects by France.
"We have agreed to expand our cooperation in these areas...we are also discussing a major climate change program loan," said the prime minister.
He said Kenya and France would cooperate in the negotiations of global environment governance. "We are hopping this will lead to a decision of the international community to elevate UNEP and establish a full- fledged global environment organization in Kenya," the prime minister said.