African Environment Ministers Outline African Views in a Decision on Green Economy

African ministers of environment and representatives of foreign affairs, the African Union Commission, the Pan-African Parliament, the African Development Bank, regional economic commissions and other key regional institutions in Africa gathered in Bamako on 15 and 16 September 2011 at the 4th Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN): Consolidating the Common Position and Strategy for Climate Change in Africa.

The special session of AMCEN was also attended by several United Nations and other international organizations and bodies including the UN Economic Commission for Africa, World Health Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Meteorological Organisation, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Bank, Global Environment Facility and development partners including the European Union, with UNEP serving as the Secretariat for AMCEN.

The conference addressed Africa’s common position and strategy for climate change, in the run-up to the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC taking place in November 2011 in Durban, South Africa. In addition, delegates discussed Africa’s regional preparation for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in 2012.

African ministers of environment adopted a Decision on Green Economy in the Context of Africa, recognizing that the green economy is a means to achieve Africa’s objectives of sustainable development, employment creation, economic growth and poverty reduction. Ministers agreed that a green economy should be underlined by national objectives, social and economic development imperatives and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Ministers called for greater international cooperation on issues of financing, access to technology and capacity building, and for sharing of experiences on successful implementation of the green economy in Africa.

Ms. Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP in her opening statement remarked that part of UNEP’s response to environmental degradation and the loss of biological diversity has been to better frame and promote the economic case for natural resources through the Green Economy Initiative. Many developing countries are now engaging in the low-carbon development path with support from multilateral technical and financial partners. This is the kind of economy that deals with multiple opportunities from boosting access to energy to job creation and food security, reducing desertification and ultimately accelerating pro-poor economic growth.

Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank, in his statement informed that the Bank is working on developing an African Green Growth Strategy to support its regional member countries to have a framework through which they can better identify cleaner sources of growth and to seize the opportunities to green existing sectors, develop new green industries, create jobs and technologies, while managing the structural changes associated with the transition to a green economy.

The outcomes of the Bamako conference will contribute to the African preparatory process for Rio, including guidance for the African Regional Preparatory Meeting taking place from 20 to 25 October 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where African positions on the Rio+20 conference are likely to be defined.