Stakes are high for the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) that begins on Monday, March 2 in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo. AMCEN and African civil society groups expect that the conference will define a concrete blueprint that will guide the continent to discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be concluded in New York and Paris climate change conference that is likely to agree on a new climate change agreement, which will come into effect by 2020.
“We want to crystalise a strong position when it comes to climate change and SDGs. We want to link environment with economy. We want to work on poverty eradication and job creation for our young population,” said Dr. Khaled Mohamed Fahmy Abdel Aal, Egyptian Minister of Environment. The minister spoke on Sunday March 1 at a pre-AMCEN major group and stakeholders’ forum.
Stakeholders expressed concerns that Africa was now more than ever before experiencing adverse consequences of climate change.
“Annual temperature is consistently increasing. We need to keep temperature lower than two degrees. For adaptation only we need between $7 to15 billion. If the trend continues by 2050, we will need $100 billion,” said Mounkaila Goumandakoye, Director and Regional Representative, UNEP-ROA.
At the forum, civil society stressed that it was crucial for AMCEN to develop a common assessment and analysis of international climate change dialogue processes, outcomes and consultations, to provide all-inclusive analysis of the latest Open Working Group on SDGs’ Environmental Sustainability Goal, and explore whether a stand-alone goal on climate change would be the best option for Africa in the ongoing debate on Post-2015 Development Agenda. The civil society also proposed that an assessment and analysis on Africa’s effort to address illegal wildlife and biodiversity trade as a way of natural resource conservation and management should be developed.
“The selection of the 15th AMCEN Session’s theme, ‘Managing Africa’s Natural Capital for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication,’ resonates with this year’s spirit, where two most important global agreements which will determine the future resource governance, will be concluded. AMCEN has been a central player in these two processes, and as civil society, we will continue playing our role within the limits of the space we have been accorded,” said Mithika Mwenda of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
Minister Khaled Mohamed, who will officially be assuming the presidency of AMCEN at the start of the conference, reiterated that a permanent partnership between the civil society and AMCEN was indispensable to achieve the demands of Africa in Paris and New York.
“We have challenges in Paris and New York. We will work very close with NGOs. I believe in the role of NGOs. We have to be strong and united. We all have to prepare and work on our plan together for Paris. Africa should stand together. We are rallying on the fastness of the NGOs,” the minister said.
The AMCEN is a permanent forum where African ministers of the environment discuss mainly matters of relevance to the environment of the continent. AMCEN was established in 1985 when African ministers met in Egypt and adopted the Cairo Programme for African Co-operation. The conference is convened every second year. The 15th session of AMCEN will run from the 2 to 6 March, 2015.
By Arison Tamfu in Cairo, Egypt