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AMCEN endorses stronger measures to combat environmental degradation

The bureau of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) has recommended several measures to address climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, and waste management, and enhance collaboration with continental bodies to improve environmental management in the region.

African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)
Participants at the virtual 31st regular meeting of bureau of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)

During its 31st regular meeting, virtually held from May 26 to 27, 2021, the AMCEN bureau reviewed implementation of decisions of the AMCEN 8th Special Session held last year.

The bureau acknowledged the progress made towards the operationalisation of the African Green Stimulus Programme and reiterated the importance of this initiative to support the continent’s recovering sustainably from the devastating socio-economic and environmental impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of the bureau took note of the need to align the stimulus programme to Africa’s agenda 2063 and recommended the inclusion of a key result area on disaster risk management, as well as strengthening of plastic use and management.

During the deliberations, Member States were called upon to actively engage in the global actions to combat plastic pollution, including through support for a global agreement to address plastic waste.

The bureau recognised that the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26) offers an opportunity for African countries to scale up ambition to address climate change and encouraged the African Group of Negotiators on climate change to continue advocating for the interests of the continent.

The bureau acknowledged that African countries remained committed to updating their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the need to highlight sectors in economies of African countries that have the greatest potential for green recovery and job creation.

Africa’s call for developed countries to provide adequate financial resources from both public and private sources to the climate-related funds was reiterated during the meeting. This call targeted the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environment Facility, and the Green Climate Fund, for developing countries to reflect higher levels of ambition and climate action.

Regarding the work of the African Group of Negotiators on biodiversity, the bureau emphasised the importance of finalising the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the need to ensure Africa’s concerns are taken into consideration, including means of implementation, together with set targets which should be an integral part of the framework.

The bureau members called upon the African Group of Negotiators on biodiversity to continue developing common positions on the key issues including resource mobilisation, raising the levels of ambition, biodiversity and human health linkages, local community participation, as well as the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. They also noted the creation of a Young African Fellowship Programme on biodiversity negotiations, which intends to integrate the youth in international biodiversity negotiations.

The bureau supported the proposal to hold an extraordinary session of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Combatting Desertification, to be organised in a virtual format in December 2021, to adopt an interim budget while understanding that the Conference of the Parties will be rescheduled to a later date in 2022.

Members noted the outcomes of the online first part of the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly, which was held from February 22 to 23, 2021, especially on the procedural decisions, namely, the UNEP Medium-Term Strategy (2022 – 2025), programme of work and budget for the biennium (2022 – 2023); management of trust funds and earmarked contributions; and adjournment and resumption of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly to February 2022.

In this regard, the Bureau urged African Member States to express their willingness to represent the region and serve on the bureau of the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, including its Presidency.

Considering the on-going impact of Covid-19 pandemic, members of the AMCEN bureau recommended convening the eighteenth ordinary session of AMCEN in two parts – part one to be virtually held from September 13 to 17, 2021 to deliberate on urgent and procedural matters, and part two to be physically held between June and October 2022 to deliberate on substantive matters.

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