The Africa Environment Outlook (AEO) reporting process was initiated in 2000 by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The first report, AEO-1, was launched during AMCEN’s 9th session in Kampala in July 2002, where it was acknowledged as a flagship publication. This report has continued to inspire dialogue in the region and has been used as the primary background document in the preparation of the NEPAD Environment Action Plan (NEPAD-EAP) – showing strong links between environmental assessment and policy making. The 10th AMCEN session, in June 2004, reaffirmed its endorsement of the AEO process as a valuable monitoring and reporting tool for sustainable environmental management and to provide a framework for national, sub-regional and regional integrated environmental assessment and reporting in Africa.

During the 22nd Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held in February 2003 in Nairobi, the AMCEN decision on the AEO process was endorsed under decision GC 22/9, which recommended that UNEP continue to support the process. In May 2003, UNEP’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) launched the process of preparing the second report, Africa Environment Outlook 2 – Our Environment, Our Wealth (AEO-2).

The AEO-2 process has been participatory, with inputs by scientists and other experts from national and sub-regional institutions in Africa. The Collaborating Centres (see Figure 2), using their national networks and capacities built through the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) process, coordinated inputs and the peer reviews in their sub-regions. Capacity-building is an integral part of the AEO process. Through collaboration with experts and stakeholders at multiple levels, the process has enhanced ability at the national level to undertake effective state of the environment assessments, in a way that is policy relevant.

Throughout the process, the AMCEN Inter-Agency Technical Committee (IATC) provided policy guidance. The committee reviewed and approved the proposed structure of the report in March 2004. In February 2005, IATC endorsed the draft recommendations of the report for approval by the AMCEN special session which met in Dakar in March 2005. The final draft report was presented to IATC for a final review and approval for publication in November 2005.