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African ministers commit to end open dumping, waste burning

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
03 October 2022   |   3:57 am
African environment ministers have vowed to end plastic pollution, eliminate open dumping and burning of waste, address antimicrobial resistance in the continent.

African environment ministers have vowed to end plastic pollution, eliminate open dumping and burning of waste, address antimicrobial resistance in the continent.

Ministers from 54 African countries adopted a series of decisions and key messages to tackle climate change, the loss of nature, pollution and waste, including the elimination of open dumping and burning of waste.

The 18th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), which took place in Dakar, Senegal, agreed to eliminate open dumping and burning of waste in Africa and to promote use of waste as a resource for value and job creation.

They called on development partners to support African countries to better monitor and reduce methane and black carbon emissions associated with waste.

They also committed to improve awareness on the risks that antimicrobial resistance poses to human health and sustainable development in Africa, as well as called for urgent and collective action to prevent and minimise adverse impacts of antimicrobial resistance.

Ministers also committed to make AMCEN stronger and more effective, including through strengthening collaboration with the African Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning.

Regarding the UN climate conference (COP27) to be held from November 6 to 18 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, ministers emphasised the need to recognise the special needs and circumstances of Africa under the Paris Agreement.

They also called up on developed countries to fulfill promised finance commitments and for COP27 to set an ambitious new goal for 2025, including Loss and Damage and a Just Transition financing framework to support developing countries.

Minister also sought support for African countries to leapfrog fossil-heavy development models while enhancing energy access.

On the UN Biological Diversity Conference (UNCBD-COP15) to be held from December 7 to 17, 2022 in Montreal, Canada, ministers reiterated that the post-2020 global biodiversity framework must include a solution for sharing the benefits arising from the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources.

Ministers underlined the need to close the financial gap to ensure implementation of the goals and target of the framework and called for the establishment of a global biodiversity fund.

AMCEN President and Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Senegal, H.E Abdou Karim Sall, emphasised that the session comes in the wake of a regional health, food, energy and financial crisis that particularly impacts Africa, denoting urgency to the conference’s theme of “securing people’s well-being and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa.”

The President of the Sixth UN Environment Assembly, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco, H.E Laila Benali said: “We recognise the crucial role that AMCEN is playing in leading and advocating for Africa’s positions and interests in the areas of environment and sustainable development, at all levels including through its active involvement in global negotiations on Multilateral Environment Agreements. We need to strengthen the role of AMCEN as a platform for implementation.”

The United States special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, who participated in the conference said: “It is an honour to join this year’s AMCEN, where I hope to offer a few thoughts, but mostly hear from you… our challenge is too big for any one nation – or group of nations – to solve alone. We need to work together – as the private sector, civil society, governments, and tribal and indigenous groups, to win the battle here. Partnerships will be key in Africa and beyond.”

“Decisions by AMCEN have provided a map the continent can now use to chart a new course, one that boosts human well-being and ensures environmental sustainability for generations to come,” said Ligia Noronha, UN Assistant Secretary-General representing the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“The time has now come for African nations to use this map by implementing the decisions this body has made. It is time to transform AMCEN from a decision-making body into a platform for action and implementation.”