The Eighth Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) which was held in Abuja, Nigeria in April, 2000 approved AMCEN’s medium-term programme, a key element of which was the production of the Africa Environment Outlook report. This decision was affirmed at the AMCEN Inter-sessional Committee, which met in Malmo, Sweden in May 2000. In response to this, the AMCEN Secretariat—the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Africa (ROA)—in collaboration with the Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) embarked on a process to produce the Africa Environment Outlook report.
The AEO report process has been based on wide consultation and participation between UNEP and various partners in the Africa region. It therefore reflects a variety of sub-regional perspectives and priorities. The AEO process involves partnership with six collaborating centres (see page v) responsible for producing subregional state of the environment and policy retrospective reports for Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Western Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands. These centres engaged individual and institutional experts at the national and sub-regional level to provide inputs into the process.
Experts from specialized organizations were also involved in providing inputs for sections of the report and in its review to ensure sub-regional balance, scientific credibility, and comprehensiveness. They include, among others, The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), African Development Bank (ADB), the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), AMU and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
In compiling the sub-regional inputs, national level information and data sources were used. These data sources were then compared and harmonized with data available from regional sources such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN Development Programme (UNDP), Africa Development Bank (ADB), The World Bank and the World Resources Institute and others. A meeting of experts from the Collaborating Centres took place to agree on harmonization of information and standardization of data sources, to ensure consistency in the report.
The AEO report process has also successfully built capacity in state of the environment reporting, policy analysis, scenario development and integrated reporting, at national, sub-regional and regional levels in Africa. Capacity-building workshops were organized at sub-regional level for national experts and NGOs on the methodologies of state of the environment/policy retrospective reporting using the State, Pressure, Impacts and Responses (PSIR) framework, including methods of data management. A scenario development workshop was also held.
Africa Environment Outlook is the first comprehensive integrated report on the African environment. The AEO assessment methodology is derived from UNEP’s cutting edge Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Process. The Africa Environment Outlook (AEO) Process was initiated incorporating key attributes of the GEO process, such as the:
Africa Environment Outlook aims to provide comprehensive, credible environmental information in a way that is relevant to policy making. The structure, which combines comprehensive environmental information with policy analysis, within an overall context of socio-economic conditions and development imperatives, is thus ideally suited to this purpose.
It provides recommendations for international cooperation and action and thus can be used by subregional organizations and national environment departments in developing national policies and international agreements.
The AEO report responds directly to Agenda 21, Chapter 40, which states:
‘While considerable data already exist, as the various sectoral chapters of Agenda 21 indicate, more and different types of data need to be collected, at the local, provincial, national and international levels, indicating the status and trends of the planet’s ecosystem, natural resource, pollution and socioeconomic variables. The gap in the availability, quality, coherence, standardization and accessibility of data between the developed and the developing world has been increasing, seriously impairing the capacities of countries to make informed decisions concerning environment and development.
‘There is a general lack of capacity, particularly in developing countries, and in many areas at the international level, for the collection and assessment of data, for their transformation into useful information, and their dissemination. There is also need for improved coordination among environmental, demographic, social and developmental data and information activities.’