Susie Kitchens explores how virtual reality can help fight pollution at UNEA

Susie Kitchens at UNEA
UK Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchens takes part in a virtual reality demonstration on the opening day of the United Nations Environment Assembly 2017. Photo: Twitter/nirdarom

The UK’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya and Permanent Representative to the UN, Susie Kitchens, was among the 4,000 attendees at the third United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi which was officially opened by President Kenyatta yesterday.

At the event, Kenya was praised for banning the manufacture and use of plastic packaging both at industrial and domestic levels and the President used his opening address to call for a commitment from all countries in the world to copy Kenya’s example.

My advice is that nations should not heed the skeptics, who say that all countries cannot protect our planet better by banning plastic carrier bags.

The President also urged the United Nations Environment Programme to strengthen its functions even as he announced that Kenya will increase its voluntary contributions to the world environmental body.

Susie Kitchens, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN, took the opportunity to explore the educational opportunities offered by virtual reality on the UNEA theme of beating pollution from Public VR Lab. She was obviously impressed as she Tweeted the demonstration was “brilliant”, and added that the UK is “helping tackle marine litter in our oceans.”

President Kenyatta also announced that after the plastic ban milestone, Kenya has embarked on organising East African Framework Agreement on Air Pollution, a major regional anti-pollution forum.

This will build on the Nairobi Agreement of 2008 which brought together 11 countries to develop actionable targets to address air pollution.  “In furthering the Agreement on Air Pollution, we hope to repeat the success we have achieved with the ban of plastic carrier bags, and we look forward to global support in this effort,” said the President.

President Kenyatta also announced that Kenya has started bidding for the hosting of the second United Nations Oceans Conference in 2020. The first conference was held in New York in June this year.

He said Kenya plans to organise and host a global conference on blue economy within next year as a build up to the Oceans Conference.

The President said Kenya remains wholly committed to strengthening and supporting the UNEP to achieve its noble goals.

“That is why we will increase Kenya’s funding to the organization in order to support its programmes,” said the President. “I would also like to encourage other member states to consider raising their voluntary contributions to help United Nations Environment Programme discharge its mandate effectively.”

More than 4,000 delegates are attending conference which will run until Friday, including British singer Ellie Goulding who was announced as a United Nations Environment Global Goodwill Ambassador for UN Environment at Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor over the weekend.