French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday joined Kenya’s president and other heads of state to open the high-level session of the UN Environment Assembly at the UN Environment’s Africa offices in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.
Macron kicked off his speech by mourning the people who were killed when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed earlier this week.
“These were our children, nine French people, and a number of members of the Secretariat, members of NGOs present here,” he said.
“Kenyans and many perished in this crash because they were working on the environment towards this summit and I would like to extend special recognition to their memory.”
Macron joined world leaders gathered at the summit and other organizations such as the World Bank in pledging billions of dollars towards preservation of African forests, which are fast disappearing due to logging and climate change.
Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta committed his country to achieving 10 percent minimum forest cover, arguing: “Investment in sustainable management in the conservation of our forests is one of the most effective interventions to combat climate change in Kenya. Forests, like the oceans, are the lungs that keep the planet alive.”
Kenyatta’s office said that the World Bank pledged $12 billion to fund adaptation and resilient climate-smart projects in Africa over the next five years.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said his bank committed to provide $25 billion towards climate finance over the next five years to address the problem of climate change.
Leaders at the assembly include Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, and Felix Tshisekedi, newly elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.