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UN concerned over ‘deteriorating’ state of Nairobi centre

The United Nations administrative and budgetary committee was alerted on Thursday to “deteriorating conditions” at the UN conference centre in Nairobi.

Committee members were told that outdated and inadequate facilities are causing the Nairobi centre to be grossly under-utilised in comparison to UN conference buildings in three cities in the developed world: New York, Geneva and Vienna.

The Nairobi centre’s “utilisation rate” dropped to 39 per cent last year, according to a report from the UN secretary-general. The overall rate for all four UN conference centres stood at 81 per cent, the report said.


Conditions at the Nairobi centre “pose an immediate risk” to the UN’s ability to host major planned events in the Kenyan capital, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned.

He pointed, in particular, to next year’s scheduled session of the assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is headquartered in Nairobi.

The secretary-general’s report noted that the main conferences of parties to multilateral environmental agreements have not been held in Nairobi since 2006 due to the centre’s inadequate capacity.

The 3500 persons taking part in a UNEP assembly meeting last year were almost double the number that can be accommodated in the conference centre.

As a result, the UN had to “erect and furnish tents and other temporary structures and supply them with electricity and information technology services,” the report said.


The Nairobi centre, which was built in 1984, is equipped with an interpretation system which, despite upgrades, “is approaching the end of its life and support cycles.”

“It is clear that dedicated resources to cover the maintenance costs will need to be provided expeditiously, given that, thus far, critical maintenance has been possible only through ad hoc financial support,” the report said. It does not provide an estimate of projected costs for upgrading the Nairobi centre.