54 African environment ministers vow to tackle climate change

Climate change

Fifty four African Environment ministers have resolved to step up the continent's response to accelerating green and sustainable recovery programmes to tackle climate change.

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Fifty four African Environment ministers have resolved to step up the continent's response to accelerating green and sustainable recovery programmes to tackle climate change.

Meeting under the auspices of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) held virtually, the representatives of the African governments reaffirmed their commitment and efforts to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by prioritising green and sustainable recovery measures that can deliver mutual benefits for social, economic, and environmental resilience.

The incoming President of AMCEN and Minister of Environment of Senegal, Abdou Karim Sall, said, "It is in the interest of Africa that environmental issues are given the attention they deserve, especially given the impacts of Covid-19."

"It is not only an opportunity but an obligation, that African Ministers in charge of the environment take responsibility for ensuring that the necessary means are provided to translate AMCEN's objectives into urgent action," he added.

 The Ministers committed to ensuring an effective multilateral approach for addressing climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

They also reiterated their commitment to ensuring its implementation in line with the principles of the Convention, while emphasising equitable access to sustainable development, poverty eradication and recognition of the specific needs of African countries.

The meeting was held virtually under the theme "Securing people's well-being and sustainability in Africa", the Ministers called for a people-centred recovery that accelerates job creation and improved livelihoods.

 The continent has suffered severe social and economic impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. This has affected the already highly volatile markets, contracting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the continent by up to 3.4 per cent with an estimated loss of between $173.1 billion (Sh19 trillion) and $236.7 billion (Sh26 trillion) for the years 2020–2021.

 The ministers noted that the pandemic had hampered the capacity of African countries to respond to the crises of climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution, which are also already having a severe impact in many parts of the continent.

To accelerate a green and sustainable recovery plan for Africa, the online platform for the African Green Stimulus Programme (AGSP) was officially launched.

 The platform offers a comprehensive gateway for governments, development partners, communities, and stakeholders to access information and knowledge on the recently adopted AGSP.

“The African Green Stimulus Programme is a key step in taking advantage of this opportunity. The programme hits all the right notes: climate action, air quality, land restoration, biodiversity, the blue economy, green cities and so on," said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (Unep).

 "It will supplement the Africa Union (AU) Green Recovery Action Plan by enabling countries and regions to take bolder action through integrating environmental considerations in their plans and programmes. And it will build on recovery actions already in place."

 The ministers supported the common regional position for the upcoming meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) and the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).

 They urged the African member states to actively participate and represent the region at the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) to be held in Nairobi from February 28 February to March 2, 2022.

Ahead of the Ministerial Conference, a meeting of Africa Major Groups and stakeholders was held on September 10 with the participation of accredited organisations to Unep.

Speaking on behalf of the African Major Groups and Stakeholders, Ayman Cherkaoui of Morocco said, "We commend AMCEN for its role in providing strategic and policy guidance for the creation of the African Green Stimulus Programme. We request for the meaningful inclusion of African Major Groups and Stakeholders in the Coordinating Committee of the Africa Green Stimulus Programme."