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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Major Construction Project Launched at UNON

The United Nations today launched one of East Africa’s largest office construction project at the 140 acre Gigiri headquarters. The ground braking ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Kenya, Mr. Moses Wetangula and the Director -General of the United Nations Office of Nairobi (UNON), Mr. Achim Steiner, both of whom affirmed that this was a significant investment in Kenya as a UN headquarter.

The construction project worth KSh. 1.4 billion (approximately USD 18 million) will increase office space on the compound by 16,500 square meters, a 60% increase on the current available office space. Availability of office space at the compound has been a growing constraint, and was one of the main factors for the new construction. It is expected that the new building will not only provide additional office space to support current requirements, but should also allow UN agencies based outside the compound to plan on moving into the headquarter grounds.

The UN team involved in the project noted that to the extent possible, the project will draw much on local material and labour thereby contributing to the local economy.

UNON’s Director-General, who is concurrently the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), lauded the numerous environmentally- friendly features of the project. Mr. Steiner said that although the new office facility “sets high energy efficiency standards, our goal is to put a building in Gigiri that will be a leading global example, that people from all over the world will refer to as a class leading example of 21st century construction”.

Mr. Steiner went on to note other innovations incorporated in the projects such as “ …the harvesting of rainwater, the treatment of waste water for irrigation purposes, and the plan to generate all the power we need for the building from a solar panel installation on the roof.”

He added that “the project has a tight deadline and is expected to be completed by end of 2010. The Architects and the construction firms, both of whom won the contract through a competitive international bidding process, have an immense challenge ahead of them.

On his part, the Mr. Wetangula recalled meeting the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki Moon in Brussels during a recent conference on Somalia. The Minister said that during their discussions about the UN in Kenya, Mr. Ban praised the construction plans and stated that the construction of the building should leave no doubt on the minds of skeptics that UN is committed to the development of this headquarter duty station.

Mr.Wetangula added that “…true partnership between the Kenyan Government and the United Nations is not a matter of chance or accident but a careful planned, mutually satisfying arrangement”. He also assured the gathering that in addition to ensuring attention to issues of security for all UN staff and all people in Kenya, that “…his Government will work with anyone and everybody of goodwill”.

12,300 Posts
Now I see why they proposed building a new diplomatic city to cater for the increase in expats.

美国: Rep KE
3,602 Posts
UN to build eco-friendly offices in Nairobi

By George Kebaso

[ Nairobi ] The United Nations office in Kenya has started the construction of a 1,200 room state of the art eco-friendly office complex dubbed “ Greenest Building in Africa” at their Gigiri compound in Nairobi .
Initial excavations to the 5,000-capacity UN staff offices commenced on May 3. The building expected to be fully operational after 18 months will provide additional space to support the expansion requirements of existing UN agencies currently based at the compound including others scattered in rental buildings across Nairobi city.

According to Dr. Achim Steiner, the Director General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) the facility will enhance centralisation of the UN activities in the region and also cater for an expanded staff estimated to be 60 per cent currently.

It is estimated that Nairobi has about 70 per cent UN agencies catering for diverse operations; nationally, regionally and internationally.

“This will be one of the largest construction projects undertaken by the UNON and will increase the available office space at the compound by approximately 60 per cent,” said Steiner.

But of major importance is the knowledge that the building incorporates eco-friendly structural designs. Instead of electric power generated air conditioning and cooling systems which are considered costly and risky, the building will have natural ventilation all around it.

According to its design, every roof shelter will be fitted with solar panels to generate cost-cut electricity and water gatherers to boost water harvesting during rainfall periods.

And to enhance natural air cleaning, the design has set aside a tree courtyard directly open to sunlight inside the office complex. The courtyard will be watered daily during times of drought.

Steiner said waste water recycling will be done through a biological process in a swamp within the Gigiri Complex compound.

“Besides enhancing our demonstration to water harvesting capacities, we have also put in place biological water recycling systems,” the UNON boss added. He also said that the contractor will use locally acquired environmental friendly building materials.

“It is a carefully planned and mutually agreed investment which has properly taken care of environmental and water management challenges,” said Wetang’ula lauding the project.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Moses Wetang’ula, who officially broke the ground for the building said. “The project is a clear indication that multilaterals have commitment and confidence to invest in Kenya .”

Engineer d's art't enjoys
6,426 Posts

169 Posts
Looks so much like the United States International University (USIU) Library. The concept is the same tho the library doesnt have solar panels

12 Posts
Its a nice example to all of us but how realistic is this idea, just good quality roofing sheets are expensive how about roofing with solar panel?

There should be a drive to start manufacturing the solar cell in kenya to bring down the prices

39,696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
UNEP upgrade to make Nairobi world's 'environmental capital'
The Nation
August 2013

A decision by the world leaders to strengthen the UN Environment Program (UNEP) is expected to boost the status of Nairobi as the environmental capital of the world, a UN official has said.

Nick Nuttall, Director of UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information told journalists in Nairobi that the upgrade means that in many ways Nairobi is now truly the environmental capital of the world.

"There is no more fitting way to demonstrate the unity of purpose that UN member states are now showing towards UNEP than a run that brings together Kenyans and peoples from all backgrounds and parts of the world in a display of solidarity for peace and the environment," Nuttall said when he announced that UNEP will host half-marathon to celebrate Nairobi as World's 'Environment Capital'.

The 21-kilometer race will be graced by some of Kenya's top and up-coming long-distance runners and will take place through the streets of Nairobi alongside the public, UN staff and the diplomatic community to celebrate universal membership of UNEP.

Organised by the Paul Tergat Foundation, Athletics Kenya and UNEP, with the support of the International Olympic Committee, the 21-kilometer celebratory run on February 24 is not only about this big boost to Kenya's global standing in international and environmental affairs.

Heads of State and nations meeting at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil last year agreed to "strengthen and upgrade" UNEP in its Nairobi home.

They also decided to transform its annual Governing Council from a membership of 58 nations to one of universal membership of more than 190 member states.

"The decision to strengthen UNEP at its headquarters in Kenya underlines how nations are increasingly recognising that climate change to the loss of fertile lands are now challenging the lives and livelihood of increasing numbers of people world-wide, but it also signals a fresh, determination to realise a more sustainable, Green Economy path," Nuttall said.

The race is also in support of The Sports for Peaceful Elections Campaign, started in January by the UN, the Sports Association, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Google Kenya.

UNEP's Clean Air Campaigns Patron Patrick Makau, whose time of 2:03:38 at the 2011 Berlin Marathon is the current world record, is supporting the run, as are Catherine Ndereba, former marathon World Champion, and Tegla Loroupe, former half-marathon World Champion.

39,696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nairobi's best kept secret: The United Nations office
The Star
August 2013​
The United Nations Offices of Nairobi may be one of the most heavily secured places in the city. A small army of guards protects the 140-acre compound in Gigiri around the clock and motorists are forbidden from idling outside.

The tight security makes sense. The UN is a powerful international organisation with many enemies. It’s also located directly across the street from the US embassy.

The Unon’s high fences and intense atmosphere, however, have led to some widespread misconceptions about the organisation. “Some people think we’re a wealthy, secret organisation, like the CIA,” says Marian Aggrey, the chief of the Unon visitor’s centre.

“We’re trying hard to demystify this,” she added. In order to change this perception, the Unon is encouraging Nairobians to take a tour of the facilities and learn exactly what they do.

“We want people to know that without them, there would be no UN,” says Aggrey. “Many people still don’t know we’re open to them.” Since its establishment in 1996, the Unon has welcomed visitors. But last year it became an official initiative to promote, and provide, group tours.

In 2012, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) launched its own visitor’s centre. Today, a staff of seven full-time employees works solely on creating and disseminating information about the organisation’s projects and events.

Rebecca Gakonyo currently acts as the sole tour operator. She started 10 months ago and took a crash course on everything related to the United Nations. Now, on most days, she can be found showing visitors around.

There are two main elements to the tour. The first consists of Gakonyo showing you around the Unon. What’s there to see? A number of varied attractions including the main assembly room where important international decisions are made, a collection of art donated from various member states and a new state-of-the-art office facility that runs on solar energy.

Visitors are welcome to take as many pictures as they like and pose in front of a selection of large UN signs. Aside from the aesthetic sights, the second, and perhaps most important part of the tour, is the educational seminar.

This provides an opportunity for visitor’s to learn, in detail, about what the organisation does and then ask any burning questions that may arise. The Unon was the last of the headquarters to implement a visitor’s centre and facility tour.

Several reasons, including budgetary shortfalls and a concern for regional security, prevented its arrival. But eventually, the UN’s group of 77, which consists of developing countries, encouraged Kenya to make its facilities more accessible.

Nasser Ega Musa, the UNIC’s director of information, acknowledges that the Unon has been a target for attacks in the past, but it remains essential that they be open to the public.

“We still have to balance being open and secure,” says Ega-Musa. “But we still want to show the people we are here to do the work of the international community.”

On July 26, forty-two USIU students took the tour. They all belonged to a campus club called the Young Diplomats, a cohort of mainly International Relations students.

As the tour began, Gakonyo led the group into a conference room and delivered a one-hour lecture about the UN. She unpacked the organisational structure, history and introduced the group to the heads of departments in Nairobi.

One of the central points of the presentation was that the Unon is one of four UN headquarters in the world. There’s Rome, Vienna, New York and Nairobi.

The Unon is the only headquarters located in the global south and is the hub for all UN departments. Yet many Kenyans still think that it’s mainly for the United National Environment Programme.

Gakonyo also stressed that the UN is a collective organisation that only exists because the member states all contribute financially. The UN’s total budget for 2011-2012 was $5.1 billion (Sh443.7 billion). Kenya contributed 0.01 per cent, that’s Sh4.5 billion.

It was a highly comprehensive presentation and throughout the talk Gakonyo fielded questions from the USIU students. It was during the Q & A period that the students got to interact with the organisation and let their opinions be heard.

“Why doesn’t the UN start using smart cars instead of the SUVs we always see?” asked Oliver Omondi Ochieng, an International Relations student at USIU.

An interesting question, especially considering protecting the environment is such an integral part of the UN. Another USIU student, Abdikarim Said, also expressed some critical thinking about the UN.

“The UN needs to adapt to a changing world,” he said following the tour. “There is too much power in a few countries' hands. We need to change the rules of engagement.”

For Pauline Ndung'u, a political science teacher from USIU who accompanied the Young Diplomats, the tour is a great opportunity for the students. “We study the UN and conduct simulations in class,” she said. “Now they actually get to see it.”

“It’s a great way to integrate theory with practice for these students,” Ndung'u added. Despite the critical attitude of several of the students, one thing was on the mind for many as the tour closed: How can I get a job here?

“Many leave wanting to work here,” says Irene Mwakesi, the UNIC’s National Information Officer. “They come here and see they can make a difference.”

During the first year, the tour was free. But now, a small fee has been added. University students pay Sh200, citizens Sh300 and non-resident adults Sh1,000. A minimum of five people can book a tour and the whole thing typically lasts for two hours.

“There’s lot’s of walking, so bring some comfortable shoes,” says Aggrey. So, whether you’re a student who wants to learn about the UN, or just a local resident curious about what’s happening past the electric fences, the tour is a great opportunity to explore the inner workings of one of Nairobi’s most prestigious places.
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