PROPOSALS FOR ACTION
A key aim of the AEO process has been to identify ‘achievable action items’
for recommendation to policy officials, and to AMCEN as Africa's environmental
body. Urgent actions necessary to reverse the current trends in environmental
degradation in Africa have been derived from the recommendations and analyses
presented in the preceding chapters of this report. These actions are detailed
below in the form of a 31-point list. They are summarized in a matrix presented
in Annex 3. Actions are grouped in the following categories:
- reducing poverty;
- arresting environmental degradation directly; and
- promoting cross-cutting actions.
Implementation of the recommended actions is principally the responsibility
of African governments, with technical assistance from AMCEN and sub-regional
organizations. In turn, African governments, AMCEN and the sub-regional organizations
may enter into partnerships with sub-regional, national and international organizations,
to further facilitate implementation.
Poverty is a complex multidimensional problem. In Africa, poverty is one of
the drivers of environmental degradation, largely because the poor have limited
choices and depend heavily on the natural resource base. There is no uniform
solution to the problem of poverty. Country-specific programmes to tackle poverty,
and sub-regional, regional and international efforts supporting national efforts,
are needed. At national level, a specific anti-poverty strategy is, therefore,
one of the basic conditions for ensuring sustainable development. Many African
countries have prepared and are implementing poverty reduction strategies and
Actions which are directly relevant to the environment, and which are imperative
if Africa is to reduce poverty, are as follows:
- Endorsement and promotion of the principles of sustainable development
The African Union in general and, where the environment is concerned,
AMCEN in particular, need to persuade the global community to adopt the New
African Initiative—a recovery plan in the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD)—as the framework for sustainable development in Africa,
and to accelerate setting up of the necessary mechanisms of the World Solidarity
Fund (WSF). National governments also need to increase efforts towards attaining
the poverty reduction goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration,
December 2000. In the Declaration, world leaders agree among other things,
to set specific targets to halve the proportion of people who live in extreme
poverty, and to reach development goals.
- Acceleration of industrial development
Acceleration of industrial development is necessary to provide employment
and to raise the financial resources needed to stimulate economic growth.
In this respect, regional cooperation is required in order to raise the industrial
productivity and competitiveness of African states to international levels.
National efforts should also be devoted to promoting the development of micro-,
small- and medium-sized enterprises. The focus should be on agricultural commodities
and natural resources, in order to add value to Africa’s traditional exports.
However, any national industrialization strategy must be environmentally sustainable
and must not be a contributor to further environmental degradation.
Increase of sustainable agricultural production
Sustainable agricultural production techniques reduce negative impacts
on the environment.
Ron Giling /Still Pictures
National governments must increase financing for the agricultural sector.
Regional and international support is needed for implementation of the UNCCD.
Similarly, regional and international support is needed to persuade the developed
countries to remove agricultural subsidies which are currently blocking entry
of African agricultural products into their markets, and which are encouraging
the dumping of products onto the African market. Regional support is needed
to convince the developed countries to apply the precautionary principle to
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which have unknown, but potentially
dangerous, consequences for agricultural production in Africa. African governments
should also promote sustainable agricultural production techniques to avoid
the adverse impacts of the sector on the environment.
- Promotion of human health, well-being and development
African governments must ensure greater access to affordable primary and secondary
health care and medical technology. They also need to improve environmental
and social conditions, which are responsible for spreading diseases, and to
build the capacity of local communities to improve their living conditions.
International partnership is required to make both preventive and curative
health care available. Regional and sub-regional technical assistance and
national efforts are needed to provide access to medicine at affordable prices,
while promoting public health and nutrition. National governments need to
empower African women in social and economic development, and to strengthen
the skills of the region’s youth. Regional and sub-regional technical assistance
is also required to complement national efforts in promoting human-resource
development and capacity building, including universal primary and secondary
- Advocacy for better terms of trade
Regional lobbying is needed to support the efforts of African governments
in persuading developed countries to open up their markets, and to eliminate
subsidies on agriculture, textiles and other export products competing with
those of the region.
- Generation of increased domestic financing for sustainable development
Efforts are required at all levels—national, subregional, regional and international—to
promote foreign direct investment in Africa. The developed countries and the
Bretton Woods institutions should cancel Africa’s external debt. Efforts should
also be intensified to persuade developed countries to adhere to the United
Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for ODA, and to ensure that Africa gets
its fair share. New partnerships with UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank are needed
to increase the resources available, and to improve on operational and project
implementation procedures of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
- Improvement of infrastructure and sustainable human settlement patterns
Improvements are needed in infrastructure and sustainable human settlement
patterns in Africa, in order to reduce congestion and pollution. National
governments need to improve access to, and the affordability and reliability
of, infrastructural services. African governments need the support of AMCEN
in mobilizing external resources for implementation of the Habitat Agenda
and the declaration of the 25th United Nations Special Session, to achieve
sustainable human settlements in Africa.
- Improvement of the scientific and technological base in Africa
AMCEN needs to identify scientific and technological gaps, particularly relating
to environmental management, and should guide African governments in accessing
appropriate indigenous and external technologies in order to enhance environmental
management and economic development.