Triple planetary crisis, green recovery top agenda at African Ministerial Conference on the Environment


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Meeting this week virtually at the 18th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), 54 African Environment Ministers agreed to step-up the continent’s response to accelerate the green and sustainable recovery programme to tackle the triple crisis of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution. 

In a Ministerial Statement issued today at the closing of the first part of the 18th session of AMCEN, representatives of the African governments re-affirmed 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.

Speaking at the ministerial segment, the incoming President of AMCEN and Minister of Environment of Senegal, H.E Abdou Karim Sall, said, “It is in the interest of Africa and in the interest of our people that environmental issues are given the attention they deserve, especially in view of the impacts of COVID-19.”

“It is not only an opportunity but an obligation, that we 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 emphasizing equitable access to sustainable development, poverty eradication and recognition of the specific needs of African countries.

At the high-level conference, 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 impact social and economic impacts from COVID-19 pandemic. This has affected the already highly volatile markets, contracting the GDP of the continent by up to 3.4% with an estimated loss of between $173.1 billion and $236.7 billion for the years 2020–2021.  

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, developments partners, communities, and stakeholders to access information and knowledge on the recently adopted AGSP.

“The African Green Stimulus Programme is 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 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.”

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 also urged 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 28 February to 2 March 2022.

On the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of UNEP (UNEP@50) in 2022, the Ministers agreed to engage in activities at national, regional and global levels to create awareness for more ambitious future actions to protect nature, combat pollution, land degradation and climate change. The Ministers of Environment also agreed to support UNEP@50 by providing an expanded platform for outreach and systemic action on the African continent.

Ahead of the Ministerial Conference, a meeting of Africa Major Groups and stakeholders was held on 10th September with participation of accredited organisations to UNEP. Their statement was presented to ministers by the regional representative of the group.  

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.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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