“To meet the Sustainable Development Goals it is crucial that Africa confronts some of the biggest problems facing the continent, be it climate change or disease, poverty or the degradation of our ecosystems.
“It is of paramount importance that this session addresses the way forward for swift implementation of the African Renewable Energy Initiative as well as the African Adaptation Initiative.
“The outcome of this important conference will be communicated at the upcoming United Nations Environment Assembly, where our work here at AMCEN will feed into global efforts to find solutions to some of the most critical issues of our time.”
At AMCEN, ministers and government representatives are also expected to come up with ways for Africa to engage in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), which will be held in Nairobi next month.
The agreement, which will be signed by over 130 countries next week, aims to keep the global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C and to drive efforts to limit the temperature rise even further – to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels.
In particular, the ministers will focus on the Africa Adaptation Initiative, which provides means for African countries to build resilience to the impacts of climate change, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, which seeks to foster renewable energy capacity on the continent by 2020.
In addition, ministers will look at how Africa can benefit from the finance, adaptation, and loss and damage provisions agreed upon in Paris.
The meeting is expected to produce strategies for tackling key issues facing the continent, such as the illegal trade in wildlife. It is estimated that the loss of elephants – a key tourist attraction – costs Africa up to $1.9 billion annually.
Africa holds 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves, roughly 65 per cent of its arable land and 10 per cent of its freshwater resources. Its fisheries are estimated to be worth $24 billion and the continent boasts the second largest tropical forest in the world.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw said: “The AMCEN meeting comes at a critical point in time for the environment. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has agreed upon a roadmap that charts a better future for humanity and the ecosystems that sustain it. At UNEA-2, the world will set the stage for the implementation of these goals and drive the world towards a better, more sustainable future.
“Key to achieving the vision laid out in the 2030 Agenda will be finding ways to make the most of Africa’s rich reserves of natural capital while protecting the environment and lifting people out of poverty.”
According to conservative estimates, the continent loses as much as $195 billion every year from resource plunder, illegal logging, illegal trade in wildlife, unregulated fishing, illegal mining practices, high food imports and degraded ecosystems.
Representatives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), sub-regional economic communities, the African Development Bank, civil society organizations, United Nations agencies as well as other bilateral and multilateral partners will also participate in this special session.
AMCEN was established in 1985 in order to promote regional cooperation in addressing environmental issues affecting Africa. UNEP serves as the Secretariat of AMCEN and also provides both technical and financial support to the Conference.
Regular sessions of AMCEN are convened every second year, with the most recent one being the 15th session that was held in Cairo, Egypt in March 2015. In addition, several special sessions have been convened to consider specific issues of concern.
AMCEN is critical in providing strong leadership on environmental and sustainable development matters in Africa. Through its strong convening power, it brings together African Governments to deliberate and craft common positions on important environmental issues for the region.
This year in May, hundreds of key decision makers, businesses and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society will gather at UNEA 2 at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi, for one of the first major meetings since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The resolutions passed at UNEA-2 will set the stage for early action on implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and drive the world towards a better and sustainable future. UNEA 2 is also inclusive, with myunea.org allowing citizens to feed their concerns into the meeting and take personal ownership of the collective challenges we face.