Ruto’s Full Speech at the UN General Assembly

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President William Ruto delivered his inauguration speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in Manhattan, New York.

“Your excellency Antonio Guterres, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates;
I am grateful for the immense privilege to join Your Excellencies in this distinguished Assembly; a privilege made possible by a peaceful, democratic transition following free and fair elections in Kenya on 9th August, 2022. Elections that not only stand as testimony of the universal power of democracy but also of the manifest ability of African peoples to invest in stronger nations and a secure future. Robust constitutions, effective institutions, and the impartial administration of the rule of law guarantee the achievement of shared aspirations. 
This 77th session of the UN General Assembly comes at a unique moment when the entire world is struggling with multiple grave challenges that include regional conflicts, the COVID-19 pandemic, the triple planetary crisis, food insecurity, and the rising cost of living.
I take this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to preside over this session and to express my confidence that your wealth of experience, offers us significant assurance of your good leadership.
Your motto: “Solutions through Solidarity, Sustainability, and Science”, succinctly captures with particular resonance the urgent imperatives of our time. I assure you of Kenya’s firm support and cooperation during your tenure.
I further take this opportunity to commend your predecessor, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, for his bold steps in steering the United Nations community and for ensuring its business continuity under the unprecedented circumstances occasioned by multiple global threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Excellencies, Human well-being is under grave threat. The health of the planet requires urgent attention. The immense pressure exerted by conventional threats such as climate change, the global food crisis, terrorism, cybercrime and armed conflict has been compounded by unprecedented and devastating disruptions due to COVID-19. I express my approval of the theme for this session, “A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges,” because it boldly signals the window of opportunity we now have to escalate our engagement, from firm consensus to decisive action.
In many respects, the COVID-19 pandemic stripped us of many illusions and exposed stark justice and solidarity deficits in the face of existential crisis. It brought into sharp focus the global economy’s two-lane highway, repressively patrolled by a rising tide of exclusionist nationalism.
A spectre that undermines prospects of collective action and significantly impairs the resolve of the international community to guarantee fundamental rights, including the safety and dignity of the world’s vulnerable majority.
It is for this reason that many nations, especially from the Global South, now advocate for the democratization of global governance and a re-imagined multilateralism that is inclusive and works for the good of all.
Kenya stands ready to work with other nations to achieve the pan-Africanization of multilateralism and a more just and inclusive system of global governance.
It is important to reflect on these matters as we do our best to get our people, enterprises, and industries back on their feet so that the engine of development can power our societies towards prosperity that actually leaves no one behind. Building Back Better is the universal rallying call to incorporate lessons learnt into doing more, in a better way to recover from the shock. I suggest that we have a golden opportunity to faithfully adhere to this motto by augmenting it, in word and in deed, with an additional “B”: Building Back Better, from the Bottom. 
Building back up from the bottom upwards is, essentially, about including the marginalized working majority in the economic mainstream. The bottom billion relentlessly wage their daily battle for survival in a crowded arena characterized by a scarcity of opportunity and a generally precarious existence.
The ingenuity, optimism, resilience, and energy in this ever-bustling world are sometimes called hustling. Invisible to policymakers and beyond the reach of many public services, these hustlers take nothing for granted, surviving overwhelming odds, and frequently succeeding greatly.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Things may come to those who wait, but only things left behind by those who hustle.” It is time to bolster the resilience of our nations; to mainstream these millions through deliberate strategies and efforts for economic inclusion; to Building Back Better, from the Bottom-Up.
The interlocking challenges of conflicts, triple planetary crises, and the global food crisis have impeded our momentum and obstructed our focus on achieving fundamental transformations towards sustainable development.
In the Horn of Africa region, severe drought and disruption of supply chains, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have left us food insecure.
Consequently, we have been constrained to repurpose our strategies to prioritize drought and famine relief, insulating education from disruption, and improving social protection and healthcare systems to secure the well-being of our people.
Many countries now bear witness to the unsettling phenomena of rivers, canals, and water reservoirs that are drying up on account of droughts and heat waves occasioned by climate change. Kenya is no exception.
The northern arid and semi-arid rangelands of our country have been gravely impacted by drought, whose severity has not been experienced in 40 years. 3.1 million residents of these ASALs are now severely food insecure on account of scarce rainfall over three consecutive seasons, leading to poor crop and pasture.
This unprecedented confluence of intensely adverse events has exacerbated water scarcity and starvation, worsened by rising food prices, thus complicating Kenya’s roadmap towards delivering a good quality of life to our citizens and hindering our progress towards achieving SDG 6 and SDG 2.
Severe drought has affected not only the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions but continues to devastate many others, including Asia, Europe, and the Americas. If for no other reason, the fact that we are all in this together must strengthen the case for concerted efforts across the continents.
With this in mind, I call on Member States and all relevant stakeholders to demonstrate strong political will and showcase effective cooperation by supporting the most affected countries financially, as well as through sharing land restoration and climate adaptation technologies.
It is through collaborations to expand inclusion that we can attain a new paradigm in multilateralism.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reminds us that we cannot afford to waste another moment debating the merits of doing something versus doing nothing.
It will soon be too late to reverse the course of events, and then, even the best possible interventions will not suffice. As leaders, every day is an opportunity to expedite our efforts to confront the triple planetary crisis.
It will be recalled that during the Stockholm+50 meeting, which Kenya had the honor of co-hosting with Sweden, there was consensus from states on the need to act urgently in addressing environmental impacts. Given this agreement, it is deeply concerning that little progress has been made in respect of the necessary actions.
It is time to collectively contemplate urgent measures needed to implement high-priority actions required to contain ongoing disruptions, as we deliberate on long-term implementation approaches to be undertaken.
I fully agree with the Secretary-General’s memorable statement, that “we have a rendezvous with a climate disaster”. I add that we must not be taken by surprise. If forewarned is forearmed, this is our opportunity to mobilize with tremendous urgency and take action at once.
Excellencies, the agricultural sector has an important part to play in reducing the severity of climate change. A number of practices have a bearing, positive or negative, on various dimensions of the environment.
Investing in modern agricultural technology is therefore one important avenue towards tackling prevailing environmental challenges.
Kenya is responding through substantial investment in climate-resilient agriculture. At the core of our 10-year strategy for Agricultural Sector Growth and Transformation are nine flagships.
They include the registration of farmers to direct incentives, improving farmer practices through customized extension services, monitoring of emergency food reserve stocks using a Digital Food Balance Sheet and the use of Early Warning Systems to monitor food supplies and market prices.
Agriculture remains the bedrock of the development of many nations, and will thus continue to hold the key to the creation of equitable and sustainable growth for our people. No country, large or small, has ever attained significant growth without modernizing its agricultural sector.
And as we rededicate ourselves to these targets, we must, in the immediate term, find answers to the severe deficit in the availability, flow and accessibility of fertilizer to our farmers worldwide.
I couldn’t agree more with Secretary-General Guterres on his warning right here yesterday, that “without action now, the global fertilizer shortage will quickly morph into a global food shortage”. 
We are encouraged to note that education, health, agriculture and numerous other public services have become increasingly reliant on digital access. The world needs greater investment in the development of ICT infrastructure, accompanied with policies that support innovation and increased acquisition and deployment of technology.
In so doing, we should be driven by the conviction that these measures offer a viable shortcut to poverty reduction and the promotion of inclusive development. I call for stronger global partnerships to enhance ICT infrastructure in developing countries and bridge the yawning digital divide between the global south and the rest of the world.
Excellencies, this 77th session of the Assembly follows the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Environmental Program – UNEP@50 as well as Stockholm+50 and the 4th United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
Outcomes of these conferences demanded real commitment to address global environmental concerns as a matter of urgency, and for a just transition to sustainable economies that work for all people.
The March 2022 landmark resolution of the 5th United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi to end plastic pollution is a decisive signal that the world is prepared and motivated to act on this menace.
Kenya is committed to work closely with other nations to pursue legally binding instruments aimed at bringing an end to plastic pollution.
As the host nation to UNEP and the UN-HABITAT, Kenya affirms that these critical United Nations Agencies have an indispensable role in the promotion of environmental sustainability globally, as well as developing socially and environmentally sound and sustainable cities. 
In keeping with its strong commitment to multilateral institutions, Kenya has made available more land for the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) to facilitate the upgrading of its complex. I take this opportunity to call on the Member States to complement this contribution through enhanced financing to adequately modernize the UNON facilities.
Kenya remains a strong advocate for making the sustainable use of Ocean and Blue Economy resources a development priority, holding the firm belief that significantly increased investment in this essential sector can end hunger, reduce poverty, create jobs and spur economic growth.
I urge the Secretary-General to continue calling attention to the urgent need to develop this vital sector.
In particular, I call on developed countries to invest in sustainable fishing, protect marine ecosystems and share ocean-based climate solutions with developing countries.
For our part, I am pleased to report that, building on the historic 2018 Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya is reviewing its National Blue Economy Strategy to strengthen community structures in participatory management of freshwater, coastal and marine resources and ecosystems.
The strategy is expected to contribute to our economic development through food and nutrition security, coastal and rural development and income increases along the aquaculture value chains, maritime transport and tourism.
We invite development partnerships to invest in Africa towards building capacity to sustainably utilize marine resources. We must rally together to make the best use of Africa’s vast blue resources in developing our economies while meeting our climate targets.
As we look forward to the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP27, scheduled for Sharma-El-Sheikh in Egypt, it is logical to expect that Member States will shift their attention towards the development and implementation of frameworks for climate change mitigation.
The accomplishment of pending actions by Member States is essential for the implementation work that lies ahead. I therefore call upon all of us to urgently deliver on all commitments made towards climate financing. On this matter, it is critical to emphasize that we are running out of time.
Over the past decade, Kenya has sustained its aggressive pursuit of rapid socioeconomic transformation through three principal roadmaps.
First is the Kenya National Vision 2030; the formal long-term blueprint aimed at transforming Kenya into a newly-industrializing, upper-middle-income country providing high quality of life to all its citizen in a clean and secure environment by 2030.
The second has been the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the third, the Sustainable Development Goals. Kenya looks towards tapping into a variety of resources to catalyze the achievement of these interlocking and mutually reinforcing objectives.
The disruption and ensuing crisis due to Covid-19 pandemic compelled us to diversify our focus into new interventions, including an Economic Stimulus Program, a Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy and a Covid-19 Social Economic re-engineering Recovery Strategy, all aimed at mitigating the adverse impacts of the pandemic.
I confirm that we have done the best of everything we could in the circumstances.
Nevertheless, it is not enough. Kenya and the rest of Africa, like other developing countries, are in need of greater international partnership and cooperation to avert an economic crisis in the wake of the pandemic.
Developing countries, being heavily burdened by external debt servicing, run the risk of losing development gains due to the shocks inflicted by the pandemic and associated disruptions.
I call upon global financial institutions and the international community to take urgent measures and release all existing financial instruments to provide much-needed additional liquidity and secure better fiscal space for developing countries like Kenya, to enhance social investment, support climate change adaptation and mitigation, address security needs and resolve development financing challenges.
On behalf of Kenya, therefore, I join other leaders in calling upon the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral lenders to extend pandemic-related debt relief to the worst-hit countries, especially those affected by the devastating combination of conflict, climate change and covid-19.
Furthermore, I urge the G20 to extend and expand the scope of the common framework to suspend or reschedule debt repayments by middle-income countries during the pandemic recovery period.
At this point, I would like this distinguished assembly to take a moment and consider the peace and security landscape. A landscape currently beset with multiple challenges, yet abounding with considerable opportunities.
Our home region of Eastern and Horn of Africa is, in particular, burdened by significant conflicts and changes with implications for the region’s development. We stand on the cusp of vast opportunity for galvanizing confidence building measures to generate and sustain momentum towards sustainable peace.
In its role as an anchor state in the region, Kenya has sustained our inve