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Africa’s Environment Ministers call for action through innovative solutions

Guided by global environmental concern, ministers of environment and government representatives of African nations have committed to promote and invest in innovative solutions while implementing concrete actions to overcome environmental challenges facing the continent.

Dr. Nezha El Ouafi
Dr. Nezha El Ouafi, Morocco’s Minister of Environment and vice-president of AMCEN

In a ministerial declaration issued on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at the closing of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), African governments agreed to enhance innovative environmental solutions and capacity building of human capital to achieve sustainable development in Africa.

Speaking on behalf of the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr. Keriako Tobiko, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, said:” It is important to note that environment is the foundation and the basis of the social and economic development of our countries.”

“I challenge you to come up with ways of enhancing the wealth from our rich biodiversity in forests, rangelands, wildlife and marine resources,” he added.

Under the theme “Turning environmental policies into action through environmental solutions”, the ministers came together from September 17 to 19 to mobilise political support and committed to integrate innovative solutions into their countries’ national development agendas.

“Africa needs to invest in innovative solutions to change its development pathway in a sustainable way. We need to deploy new and smart approaches to overcome the continent’s most pressing environmental challenges,” said Dr. Nezha El Ouafi, Morocco’s Minister of Environment and vice-president of AMCEN.

At the conference, ministers stressed the need to empower innovators, the private sector, micro-small and medium enterprises and civil society to use new approaches to address environmental challenges. They agreed to support Pan-African platforms on the environment to promote and share experiences and solutions across the continent.

“Public-private sector partnership will have to play a key role in embracing innovation and turning environmental policies into concrete actions to achieve the objectives of the AU Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Minister Ouafi added.

Committing to enhance their countries’ efforts to implement policies, legislation and programmes promoting innovative solutions, the ministers called on UN Environment Assembly and UN Environment programme to increase support to African countries as well as facilitating access to innovative partnerships.

“Africa stands on the right side of history to support the environment. We have the human resources, natural wealth, and leadership to innovate and transform our region,” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Head of UN Environment.

Addressing the Conference, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said, “Environment is central to human health; every year almost 12.6 million people die from hidden risks in the environment.”

He called on African governments to put human and environmental health at the centre of policy making in all sectors.

Other key decisions made at the conference included:

  • Biological Diversity: African Governments recognised the urgent need to combat land degradation and restore ecosystems in Africa. A Pan-African action agenda is being prepared to respond to land and ecosystems degradation challenges. The Ministers agreed to develop common positions on various priority issues and speak with one voice during the upcoming 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference which will be held in Egypt in November 2018. The priorities will inform the post-2020 biodiversity framework and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • Climate Change: The Ministers stressed that the outcomes of COP24 should reflect the spirit of the Paris agreement. The outcomes should balance between the Agreements elements related to action, support and transparency. Adaptation and finance should be core elements for effective operationalisation of the Agreement. They emphasised the importance of enhancing accessibility, predictability and sustainability of means of implementation, in particular finance. They agreed to work constructively to deliver the mandate of the Paris Agreement Work Programme.
  • Health and Environment: Recognising the nexus between environment and health, Ministers agreed to actively participate in the third Inter-Ministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa, Libreville, October 9 to 12, 2018. The theme is: “Health and environment strategic alliance: a catalysis for action on the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.”

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