06-06-2023 by Freddie del Curatolo
Uncontrolled urbanisation, difficulty in accessing decent housing, human-animal conflict. Problems that we in the West thought did not belong to us. We who until a few years ago looked at Africa as the continent of problems that only came to us in the form of immigrants with their 'special brand of special desperation', as the Poet would have sung, now find ourselves having to deal with increasingly unaffordable property prices and rents, wild boars under our doorstep and bears that are shot out of fear instead of defending them so that they are not afraid of us, and so on.
This is why the second assembly of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme UN-Habitat, which was opened yesterday in Nairobi by Kenyan President William Ruto, becomes a crucial appointment.
From here, ideas and suggestions can come out to the powerful of the Earth to look at the priorities of the immediate future for the whole of humanity. Little politics (although there are politicians), but above all no romantic environmentalism, tear-jerking literature or journalistic terrorism.
At Un-Habitat, after four years of waiting, more than 2,000 delegates from 193 countries around the world, including heads of state, ministers and officials, as well as civil society representatives and entrepreneurs in the field of sustainability, will meet for five days to discuss, ask questions and propose solutions. At least that is the hope.
Among the nations that have sent high officials from their ministries is Italy. Together with our ambassador in Nairobi, Roberto Natali, is the undersecretary for the environment and energy security, Claudio Barbaro. In addition to participating in the debate sessions, Barbaro will hold bilateral meetings that will soon result in important agreements, as well as visiting Italian realities on Kenyan soil that can act as a driving force for future good practices that can combine sustainability with investment, and vice versa.
Kenya from this point of view is not only an example, but can be a test-bed on which to 'test' the near, very urgent future, with particular attention to the human-animal conflict and the homeless.
"The problem of ever-increasing housing costs, of unaffordable rents for 40 per cent of the world's population, is now beginning to be everyone's problem and needs to be solved through multilateralism," said Ruto. And he is not at all wrong.
We recently returned to talk about the human-animal conflict on these spaces, after the killing of nine lions on Maasai land. As said, only apparently these are topics that do not concern us. That is why, as we wrote yesterday, a forest is not just a breath of fresh air, but a safeguard for our safety and that of animal species, a refuge and a great economic resource in times of crisis.
Ruto spoke about urban regeneration, the ongoing process in Kenya of sustainable urban practices of green building, green spaces, the adoption of low-carbon energy use, including in transport, as well as urban agriculture and effective waste management.
We will see what suggestions will come out of this forum and above all whether the powerful of the earth will know and want to seize them.
If it is a matter of interests, we have already said it, it is time to think of the environment not as something romantic (and of environmentalists tout-court as just a bunch of pain in the ass) but as an economic resource that at the same time can make tens of millions of people better off, give them employment and decent housing. Sounds so easy to say...perhaps too easy to conceive?
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