African Ministers Pledge Accelerated Action on Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Illegal Trade in Wildlife

Ministers of environment and representatives of over 45 African countries have agreed to accelerate action on issues ranging from the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to climate change and the illegal trade in wildlife.


Copyright: UNEP.

At the close of the sixth special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Cairo last month, they also pledged to engage strongly, with a common approach, in the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), which will be held in Nairobi from 23 to 27 May 2016, to shape the global environmental agenda in support of Africa’s priorities.

Dr. Khalid Fahmy, President of AMCEN and Egypt’s Minister of Environment, said, “The meeting welcomed the adoption of the Paris Agreement, and emphasized that the agreement accommodated many African concerns and interests. It stressed the need for African countries to continue engaging actively in climate change negotiations, in order to provide further guidance, and identify the modalities and rules regarding the implementation of the Agreement.

“The meeting stressed that adaptation (to climate change) remains the highest priority for Africa, and underscored the necessity for developed countries to adhere to and fulfill their commitments in the pre-2020 period.”

The meeting was held just over a month ahead of UNEA-2, where major decisions of relevance to Africa will be taken. African countries intend to table a set of resolutions, ranging from natural capital and illegal trade in wildlife, to health and the environment, with focus on lead battery recycling.

African countries’ effective engagement in UNEA-2 will ensure that national and regional priorities are addressed, especially follow-up on the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as Agenda 2063. 

Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, a dynamic and growing population and, crucially, an energy potential that the continent can and must tap into to support the global transformation to sustainability over the next few decades. 

“The decisions taken at AMCEN today demonstrate that Africa’s leaders are committed to both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement as a means of building a sustainable future for every citizen on this diverse continent.

“I look forward to further engaging with African leaders at the upcoming second United Nations Environment Assembly, where we will share our ideas and drive to chart a course to building a healthy environment that supports healthy, prosperous and thriving human development.” 

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063

The Ministers agreed on the urgent need for the sustainable management of Africa’s natural capital in support of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and Agenda 2063 and its first ten-year implementation plan. They also agreed to put in place policies and practices to reverse ecosystem degradation and promote sustainable consumption and production patterns. In addition, the forum agreed to create and strengthen private and public partnerships and establish centres for sustainable harnessing of natural capital, value addition, green industries and agro-processing centres.

Climate change and implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The Ministers reaffirmed that adaptation to climate change is an essential priority for Africa and that there is an urgent need for immediate and adequate support for the implementation of adaptation measures to cover agreed full and incremental costs. 

The forum also welcomed the progress made with regards to the two African owned and led initiatives – Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) and the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) – and called for their swift implementation.

Illegal Trade in Wildlife

The Ministers committed to provide leadership to establish inter-agency task forces involving relevant sectors, including police, customs authorities, the judiciary, defense forces, environmental agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.

The forum also agreed to support the African common strategy on combatting illegal trade in wild fauna and flora and facilitate the implementation of its action plan. 

Desertification, drought, floods and restoration of degraded land

The Ministers agreed to support the ongoing programme on land degradation neutrality initiated by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). They requested member states to develop a Strategic Framework for Drought Management and Actions to Enhance Resilience to Drought and develop Early Warning Systems for African Countries, through the support and technical guidance of the UNCCD and other relevant partners.

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