Ministers agree to accelerate action on continental environment challenges
Ministers of the Environment have committed to continue taking concrete actions to address environmental challenges and climate actions to unlock inclusive wealth creation that safeguards the socio-economic wellbeing of Africa.
They reiterated their support in aligning African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) to global efforts, especially through the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the highest global environmental decision-making body.
In a ministerial declaration issued at the closing of AMCEN 17th Ordinary Session, African governments agreed to make the conference the forum for making regional environment policies with effective mechanisms for implementation.
Held under the theme, “Taking action for Environmental Sustainability and Prosperity in Africa”, the Conference was held last week and focused on the need for African countries to take practical action, including implementation of policies, relevant regional and global frameworks, in order for the continent to attain environmental sustainability and prosperity and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Ministers committed to taking measures to evaluate their progress in the implementation of their decisions and address emerging issues. They reaffirmed their commitment to use all policy tools at national and regional levels to achieve strong, harmonised, coherent delivery of environmental and sustainable development-related programmes to enable the achievement of Agenda 2063 of the African Union and 2030 Agenda.
Ministers recognised the value of the circular economy and its potential to improve the way in which goods and services are produced and consumed, reduce waste, create jobs and contribute to sustainable development. They also agreed to raise the political visibility and awareness of the circular economy.
The 17th Ordinary session of AMCEN committed to replicate, scale-up and use circular economy approaches as part of Africa’s transformation efforts as contained in Africa Agenda 2063.
They also committed to raising awareness on the blue economy by recognising that oceans and freshwater sources play a critical role in the economic development of the continent.
The ministers stressed the need to enhance the development of the Blue Economy of Africa as well as to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters such as floods and cyclones.
On biodiversity, a commitment was made to raise the visibility and importance of the contribution of biological resources and their services in sustainable development through promoting the opportunities offered by the biodiversity economy.
Ministers committed to addressing the threats facing biological resources in order to mitigate the impact of the challenges that the continent is facing.
They also committed to providing political direction and momentum to highlight the urgency of action at the highest levels in support of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
They also reaffirmed their pledge to swiftly implement the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience as part of Africa’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030.
The ministers reaffirmed commitment to provide adequate resources to address the drivers of migration-related to desertification, land degradation, and drought. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the 2018–2030 Strategic Framework of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and recognized the value of the land degradation neutrality and its potential to improve development and prosperity of Africa.
Ministers acknowledged the recent findings of the international scientific community regarding climate change, including the three recent special reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, Climate Change and Land Report, and Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which reflect the specific circumstances of Africa and linkage between its vulnerability to climate change and urgent development challenges.
They reaffirmed the commitment of the African countries to the full implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement in line with the principles and provisions of the Convention. Ministers emphasized the importance of the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Ministers committed to supporting global action to address plastic pollution, and which will need further work to engage more effectively on global governance issues on plastic pollution, including reinforcing existing agreements.
Ministers welcomed the proposal for a science-policy-business forum to contribute to the provision of information to policymakers for informed decision-making on environmental issues.
At the conference, Minister Barbara Creecy, the Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa assumed the Presidency of AMCEN, taking over from Minister Lee White, Gabon’s Minister for Forests, Sea, the Environment and Climate Plan.
“At AMCEN we have seen African Ministers of the Environment demonstrate a powerful commitment to environmental protection, sustainable development, and transforming policy into action.
The UN Environment Programme stands ready to support this shared vision of a prosperous Africa which ensures the well-being of both people and the environment on which we all depend,” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.
“We need to ramp up our efforts to implement the decisions for the benefit of our Continent,” Barbara Creecy, President of AMCEN and Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa said.
“As we deliberated on the contribution that the Circular Economy, Blue Economy and biodiversity can make, this is an ideal opportunity to involve our youth and women in a more meaningful way in these, whilst guarding against environmental degradation.”
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