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Remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, at the Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment on Climate Change

Nairobi, 29 May 2009 -  Excellencies,

Honourable ministers,

Permanent Representatives to UNEP and Habitat,

Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to be here with you today and at this special session on climate change and a common negotiating position for Africa of AMCEN. 

I am sorry I could not be here earlier, but my staff and colleagues have kept me well appraised of progress and discussions during the past few days.

Indeed looking out into this room of delegates here at UNEP headquarters I see people from all corners of this extraordinary Continent in all their diversity.

But I also see unity - unity of purpose in delivering a constructive and transformational position for Africa at the crucial UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

There was a similar sense of purpose, a similar sense of the new and emerging opportunities in Kigali last week at the High Level Forum on Financing for Development with Africa’s finance and environment ministers.

Here a new unity was also forged between Africa’s economic and environmental policy-makers crystallized perhaps best by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

He said many inspiring and quite electric things but let me mention five.

  • The environment is our life-blood; indeed the real surprise is not that ministries of finance are now talking to ministries of environment – but that it has actually taken this long”.
  • Clearly it is time for Africa to lead in mobilizing technological and financial resources, and join global efforts to save the environment
  • We should ensure that our continent engages more robustly in global dialogue on the environment, and undertakes binding commitments, including resource mobilization not only externally as has been the tendency, but from within as well.
  • In this respect, we should also explore innovative financing schemes for protecting our environment more aggressively, including global carbon markets in which Africa remains a marginal participant.
  • Following this meeting we should plan to be heard as a coherent, united voice at the Copenhagen Summit taking place this December, thus demonstrating that Africans are equal partners with the rest of the world in working to protect our environment.

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Further Resources

Special Session of AMCEN on Climate Change

Africa needs substantially scaled-up finance, technology
and capacity-building to combat climate change

frican Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)
Official Website

UNEP Regional Office for Africa


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