African ministers seek people’s well-being, environmental sustainability
Environment ministers from Africa have pledged mobilisation of additional resources to accelerate a post-pandemic recovery that is green and inclusive.
Speaking at the 18th session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) that held virtually, the ministers said that supportive policies, adequate financing and political goodwill was key to placing the continent on a green and sustainable recovery pathway.
The meeting of the ministers held under the theme of “Securing people’s well-being and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa”, was attended by representatives of multilateral organisations and continental blocs.
They called on governments to align recovery measures with long-term objectives of strengthening resilience to the impacts of climate change and integrating more ambitious policies to halt, reverse biodiversity loss as well as restore ecosystem services.
The ministers also encouraged countries to prioritise green and sustainable recovery plans that deliver mutual benefits for social, economic, and environmental resilience.
South African Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and outgoing president of AMCEN, Barbara Creecy, said that enhanced protection of habitats and climate financing would revitalise Africa’s quest for green pandemic recovery.
“We can use environmental sustainability as a vehicle for post COVID-19 recovery in Africa. The continent should adopt green stimulus packages to support its journey towards low carbon growth pathways,” said Creecy.
Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, stressed that Africa’s ability to overcome pandemic shocks hinges on green investments. UNEP has hosted the secretariat of AMCEN since its inception in 1985,
According to Andersen, the continent should enact progressive legislation and policies, promote investments in clean technologies and harness nature-based solutions to accelerate recovery from pandemic-linked economic downturn.
She said that Africa has a chance to rebuild its economies, strengthen climate resilience of communities if governments explore innovative financing toward renewable energy, pollution control and ecosystems restoration.
Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development of Senegal and incoming president of AMCEN, Abdou Karim Sall, underscored the critical role of regional cooperation, sharing of best practices and policy harmonisation to promote green recovery and restore degraded ecosystems in Africa.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment at the African Union Commission, Josefa Leonel Corriea Sacko, said that investments in green recovery will unleash multiple benefits including food security, improved health outcomes and greater access to clean energy.
According to Sacko, a green recovery master plan for the continent once implemented fully will boost war against poverty, create new jobs, reduce negative impact of climatic shocks to livelihoods, improve peace and stability.
She said continental blocs have rallied behind green financing to help restore livelihoods devastated by the pandemic and promote climate-resilient development.
AMCEN was established in December 1985, following a conference of African ministers of environment held in Cairo, Egypt. Its mandate is to provide advocacy for environmental protection in Africa; to ensure that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner; to ensure that social and economic development is realized at all levels; and to ensure that agricultural activities and practices meet the food security needs of the region.
The measures adopted by AMCEN in seeking solutions to environmental concerns in Africa have consistently been participatory and consultative since its inception.
The existence of AMCEN has had an impact on the manner in which environmental issues are being handled in the region. It has also contributed to strengthening Africa’s participation and active involvement both in global negotiations and in international agreements on the environment.
AMCEN’s role includes, providing continent-wide leadership by promoting awareness and consensus on global and regional environmental issues as well as developing common positions to guide African representatives in negotiations for legally binding international environmental agreements.