United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong, its first director, after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in June 1972. Its mandate is to provide leadership, deliver science and develop solutions on a wide range of issues, including climate change, the management of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and green economic development. The organization also develops international environmental agreements; publishes and promotes environmental science and helps national governments achieve environmental targets.

As a member of the United Nations Development Group, UNEP aims to help the world meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. UNEP hosts the secretariats of several multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies, including The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), The Minamata Convention on Mercury, The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, The Convention on Migratory Species and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), among others.

In 1988, the World Meteorological Organization and UNEP established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.UNEP sometimes uses the alternative name UN Environment. The headquarters of the agency is in Nairobi, Kenya

On 12 September 2011, international media sources reported a major fuel pipeline explosion and fire in the Mukuru-Sinai slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Over 100 people were burnt to death, while an equal amount of people were hospitalized with serious burn wounds. On 23 September 2011, an official request for environmental emergency response services was made by the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources (MEMR) through the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC). The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), through their Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, subsequently compiled an expert team to undertake a rapid environmental emergency assessment. The scope of the mission was to provide scientific information on the extent and nature of pollution and to assist the decisionmaking and priority-setting by the authorities and other actors for follow-up activities on the affected site. The mission took place from 9 to 16 October 2011.

The main conclusion of the mission was that the fire was not caused by a pipeline explosion as reported initially in (international) media, but by an industrial accident that caused a large amount of unleaded petrol to enter a storm water drainage system. A further conclusion was that a repetition of a similar type of accident is considered as highly likely.

The area where the accident took place is affected by pre-existing, chronic pollution and therefore no immediate clean-up action is needed for the remaining residues of the accident. There is no immediate threat to the drinking water supply as a result of the accident.

The mission established that there is a clear indication of other uncontrolled industrial effluents being released into the storm water drainage system and the Ngong River.

Detailed recommendations have been provided in the report detailing the immediate measures to take in order to prevent a re-occurrence of a similar type of accident. The competent authorities are urged to implement these measures without delay.

In addition, recommendations have been made to improve the preparedness for environmental emergencies both at the national level and at the local level, in particular through the implementation of UNEP’s programme on Awareness and Preparedness at the Local Level (APELL).


UN Environment Programme
United Nations Avenue, Gigiri Nairobi, Kenya
P.O. Box 30552, 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 (0)20 762 1234

UNEP Global Headquarters

Executive Office
Executive Office of the United Nations Environment Programme
Secretariat of Governing Bodies
Office of the Secretariat of Governing Bodies
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