POLICY AND LEGAL RESPONSES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

ENVIRONMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT

Africa has come to approach the environment in a fundamentally new way – it has moved from seeing environmental issues as a constraint to development to seeing the environment, if properly managed, as an opportunity for development. Chapters 2-7, of Section 2: Environmental State-and-Trends: 20-Year Retrospective, discuss the opportunities for development from different environmental goods-and-services.

The New Partnership
for Africa’s
Development
commits Africa’s
leaders to place their
countries,
individually and
collectively, on a
path of sustainable
growth and
development, and at
the same time to
participate actively
in the world
economy, enlarging
Africa’s economic
prospects.

African governments have adopted new, more encompassing and forward-looking environmental policy and legislation. Beginning in the 1980’s, following the Stockholm Human Environment Conference of 1972 and the Lagos Plan of Action of 1980, African countries began to refocus on how to manage the environment and why it was important from a development perspective. By the 1990s, the Brundtland Commission, the UNCED conventions, and Agenda 21, as well as advocacy and actions of civil society, motivated African countries to make a fundamental break with the environmental approaches that had developed during the colonial era and had persisted since then.

In 2002, with the launch of the African Union, a fundamental shift was made from predominantly political cooperation to a joint Africa-wide commitment to promote socioeconomic development. Environmental resources were, and are, seen as a key part of this. The AU’s Constitutive Act provides for coordinated policy development in the important environmental areas of energy, mineral resources, food, agriculture and animal resources, forestry, water and environmental protection. The ACCNR, adopted by the AU in July 2003, revised the original convention adopted in Algiers in 1968. The Convention commits Africa to development that is based on the achievement of ecologically rational, economically sound, and socially acceptable policies and programmes which recognize the human right to a satisfactory environment as well as the right to development.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development commits Africa’s leaders to place their countries, individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy, enlarging Africa’s economic prospects. It seeks to address environmental challenges while reducing poverty, and recognizes that the range of issues necessary to nurture the region’s environmental base and promote the sustainable use of natural resources is vast and complex, and thus that a systematic combination of initiatives is necessary to develop a coherent environmental programme.