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  • Writer's pictureEPI Secretariat

EPI Foundation Celebrates UNEP at 50

The Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) Foundation offers its warm congratulations to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, and also extends its congratulations to Kenya, an EPI Member, which has served as the host country of UNEP since its inception.

UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Foundation’s CEO, John E. Scanlon AO, who worked with UNEP in Nairobi from 2007-2010, said ‘For half a century UNEP has led global efforts to protect our planet. Over this time, UNEP has worked tirelessly to ensure that decision makers are aware of the scale and nature of the environmental challenges before us, and the measures needed to tackle them. UNEP has played a vital role in ensuring the environment is entrenched on the global political agenda, and its efforts in advancing international environmental law, the environmental rule of law, and the creation of the IPPC and IPBES, stand out as major achievements. We also congratulate UNEP on the just concluded fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5), which included fruitful negotiations on a new international agreement on plastics pollution and a powerful and forward looking Ministerial Declaration.'

The EPI Foundation is the secretariat of the EPI, an alliance of 21 African countries - Angola, Benin, Botswana, Chad, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda - with common policies on elephant conservation. Dr Winnie Kiiru, the Foundation’s Director of Government Relations, said, ‘We Kenyans are proud that Nairobi has been UNEP’s home these past 50 years. The decision to locate a major UN agency in an African city was seen as a bold move in the early 1970s. Today, the wisdom of that decision is self-evident; it is people in Africa and other developing countries who are most vulnerable to the environmental crises we face, such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity’.

The EPI Foundation, which is an accredited Foundation with UNEP, made several contributions to the Ministerial Declaration of UNEA 5, whose session coincided with UNEP’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Nairobi. The EPI Foundation encouraged States to ensure it contained an emphasis on spatial planning and its links to securing wildlife corridors and addressing human-wildlife conflict, on illicit wildlife trafficking, and on further strengthening UNEP. John Scanlon said ‘The UNEA is a powerful platform for governments from across the globe to coordinate international environment policies and create new international law, and the EPI Foundation is pleased to be able to contribute to its work. Going forward, we urge all participants to take decisive measures to preserve our largest terrestrial mammal, the elephant, their habitats, and biodiversity more generally, for the benefit of people and our planet’.

UNEP’s original Nairobi home, the Kenyatta Conference Centre (photo 1974).

To reach Dr Winnie Kiiru in Nairobi, or John Scanlon, or for further comment, please contact Barnaby Phillips on

The EPI Foundation submission to the UNEA 5 is available here.

Also see John Scanlon’s dialogue with Professor Maria Ivanona from December 2021 on how to further strengthen UNEP, ‘Reflections from a Former Insider: A Conversation with John E. Scanlon’. Blog available here. YouTube video available here.



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