by Ronald Njoroge and Chrispinus Omar
NAIROBI, April 20 (Xinhua) -- The amount of electronic waste produced annually is increasing by ten times every year, a UN Environmental Program (UNEP) official said on Friday.
UNEP Deputy Executive Director Amina Mohammed told journalists in Nairobi that due to the rapid uptake of new technology, the amount of e-waste is growing exponentially.
"Globally we are estimating that the amount of e-waste generated annually is increasing by ten times," Mohammed said during the launch of commemorative stamps by Kenya's Postal Corporation to mark 40th anniversary of UNEP.
The stamps depict images of three cities, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm and Nairobi which are synonymous with some of the major landmarks in the history of UNEP.
"The stamps will celebrate the leadership of UNEP in calling for sustainable development," she said.
"All countries are grappling with growing volumes of e-waste, but some nations have developed programs aimed at achieving a reduction in their negative environmental impact," she noted.
Mohammed said rapid urbanization is also at the core of increasing e-waste as people seek to buy modern conveniences such as televisions, radio, mobile phones, computers and washing machines, the UNEP official said.
E-waste is not easy to manage as it is not biodegradable and takes a long time to disintegrate.
"We are seeking to form partnerships with governments, international organizations and manufacturers of electronic goods in order to develop a sustainable way of disposing them in order to avoid incidences of e-waste dumping into developing countries," Mohammed added.
She said that Kenya should take pride as it is the only developing country to have a UN agency headquarters, "This has led to Nairobi being recognized as an environmental city," the director said.
"UNEP has a lot to celebrate in its 40 year history including spearheading in the formulation of major conventions such as those governing biodiversity and desertification," she said.
"UNEP led the way in the 98 percent reduction of ozone depleting substances by spearheading the Montreal protocol," she said.
"Without the protocol, atmospheric levels of ozone depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050 which in turn could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataract," the director said.
"Approximately, 1.5 million lives have also being saved as a resulted of phasing out of lead from petrol from 80 developing countries including Kenya since 2002," Mohammed said.
"Scientists have calculated that the improvements in IQ, reductions in cardiovascular diseases, and the decline in criminality are some of the 2.4 trillion US dollars annual benefits linked to ridding the world of leaded fuel," she said.
UNEP is assisting Kenya in form of resources and technical knowhow in tapping renewable energy sources.
According to Mohammed, UNEP is contributing to environmental conservation through use of technology to improve efficiency of many industrial processes.
She said therefore that anyone who collects the stamps will learn the origins as well as rich history of the UNEP.
"Additionally, we have already prepared proposals which will be discussed at the upcoming Rio plus 20 meeting in June on the planned upgrading of UNEP from a programme to a full UN agency," she noted.
"Given the increasing value of environmental conservation in the face of increasing industrial activity, UNEP status should be reviewed upwards," she said.
"We have received backing on the proposals from many Africa, Europe and Latin American nations so that UNEP can carry out its mandate more effectively," she said.
Mohammed said the UN environmental agency UNEP will remain at all governments disposal in order to provide any information that would assist them it achieve sound global environment management system.
"Rio Plus 20 may prove to be an opportunity where the green economy initiative is translated into a fresh and forward-looking way of realizing sustainable development for the world's seven billion people," the UNEP official said.
Postal Corporation of Kenya Post Master General Ali Hussein stamps will celebrate UNEP's response to challenges arising from air pollution, biodiversity loss and deforestation. "Each edition contains milestones achieved and we hope to increase the awareness of the UNEP role in environmental conservation in Kenya," Hussein said.