United Nations Environment Programme environment for development
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Climate Change
Climate Change
UNEP is focusing on both mitigation and adaptation and the objective is to strengthen the ability of countries in integrating climate change responses into national development processes. More

Disasters and Conflicts
Disasters and conflicts in Africa
The objective is to minimize environmental threats to human well-being arising from the environmental causes and consequences of conflicts and disasters More

Ecosystem Management
Ensuring the holistic management of land, water and living resources to promote conservation and sustainable use. More

Environmental Governance
Strengthening Global, Regional, national and local Environmental governance to address agreed environmental priorities. More

Chemicals and Waste
Minimising impacts of Harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste on the environment and people More

Resource Efficiency
Promoting Resource efficiency and Reducing adverse impacts of consumption and production. More

Environment Under Review
The Environment Under Review sub programme aims to contribute to sustainable development and improved well-being through empowering stakeholders at global, regional and national levels. It aims to do this by providing open web platforms, services and access to timely, substantiated knowledge about the environment and emerging issues and by strengthening capacities to make use of substantiated knowledge in decision-making.

Regional News

Africa Celebrates Africa Environment Day and Life of Wangari Maathai
Nairobi, 3 March 2014 – Celebrations to mark this year’s Africa Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day commenced with the burning of 15 tonnes of contraband ivory by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at Nairobi National Park, with 1,000 guests in attendance, including the African Union Commissioner, Cabinet Secretaries, the United Nations and members of the international community. The role of women in sustainable natural resource management and the fight against wildlife crime are the major themes of this year’s event, which will feature a week-long Kenya Wildlife Festival. The festival is seen as an opportunity for more Kenyans to learn about wildlife through music, theatre, and debate—and the importance of ending a US$213 billion illicit trade that includes elephant poaching, great ape theft and the illegal transport of timber. In celebration of the life and work of Wangari Maathai, Africa's first female Nobel laureate, a champion of grassroots environmental activism and founder of the Green Belt Movement, special emphasis will this year be placed on the importance of empowering women in sustainable natural resource management. A one-day Regional Forum on Women and Environment will be held on the 4 March in honour of Wangari Maathai at The World Agroforestry Centre Headquarters in Nairobi, which will feature expert panel discussions on several gender-related themes, including: gender equality in Africa, and the impact of climate change and desertification on women and their response in addressing the challenges. Professor Maathai was the inspiration for the Billion Tree Campaign launched by UNEP in 2006, which inspired the planting of 12.5 billion trees worldwide, and is now run by the Plant for the Planet Foundation. The work of the Green Belt Movement and the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme found just cause for further inspiration in September, when an innovative public-private partnership of multinationals, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples pledged to reduce enough forest loss to eliminate the emission of between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “The pledge at the UN Climate Summit in New York—to which Kenya is a signatory—to cut the loss of forests in half by 2020 and end deforestation by 2030 is testament to the importance of Professor Wangari Maathai’s pioneering spirit. Her brave journey began in 1974 with the planting of a single nursery tree in Karura Forest. The Declaration came alongside an extension of the global restoration target to at least 350 million hectares by 2030—an area greater than the size of India—which would bring significant climate benefits and take pressure off primary forests.” As UNEP’s African Adaptation GAP 2014 report makes clear, reducing forest loss is critical to African climate change resilience measures, which are already costing the continent in the region of US$7–15 billion per year. Similar efforts are also helping to support the livelihoods of 65 per cent of Africans, as well as helping to ensure that the impacts of climate change—including a projected 20–50 per cent decline in water availability—do not reverse decades of development progress in Africa, according to UNEP’s Keeping Track of Adaptation Actions in Africa 2014 Report. The Africa Green Economy Report, replete with data and case studies of successful green economy initiatives across the African continent, will be launched at this year’s African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, which is taking place in Cairo, Egypt from March 2–6. For more information, please contact: Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP Newsdesk, on Tel. +254 788 526 000/+254 713 601 259, E-mail: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

New UNEP-AMCEN Publication Draws Strategic Pathways for Youth Entrepreneurship towards Africa’s Greener Future
(Egypt)/Nairobi (Kenya), 1 March 2015 – The participation by young people in sustainable development is the foundation of Africa’s greener future, and a vibrant factor of it successes today. With almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 representing 20% of the population, Africa has the fastest-growing and most youthful population in the world. It is generally estimated that the number of young people in Africa will double by 2045 and if this trend continues, the continent’s labour force will be 1 billion strong by then, making it the largest in the world. This Africa’s youth population is not only growing rapidly, it is also getting better educated. It is estimated that 59% of 20-24 year olds will have had secondary education in 2030, compared to 42% today. But this African youth is less employed than their parents. Many African young people are neither employed, nor studying, nor looking for a job eventually. And yet, considering their sheer numbers, these young people have the potential to nurture Africa’s sustainability quest. But if sufficient economic and employment opportunities are not created to support decent living conditions for this important group, they can present a significant risk to social cohesion and political stability. It is against this backdrop that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which serves as the secretariat to the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) has produced a publication titled « Accelerating Youth Action Towards Africa’s Greener Future », which was launched during the Civil Society and Major Group pre- AMCEN 15 forum in Cairo. This publication developed as part of the implementation of its Tunza strategy in Africa that seeks to enhance, inspire and enable the involvement of children and young people in environmental activities, with a vision to foster a generation of environmentally conscious citizens and leaders, capable of positive action to promote sustainable development. In the same vein, AMCEN has positioned the youth as a priority in its agenda, in line with its constitutional mandate to strengthen the participation of youth in sustainable development activities. As the MDGs expire in 2015, African youth are reinventing their environmental strategies and initiatives. The post-2015 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals present a new context and imperatives for African youth action, a new set of opportunities for African youth to seize so that they can play a decisive role in Africa’s quest for sustainable development and poverty eradication The publication addresses these opportunities within the context of a green economy that will further inform and catalyze youth action. The publication illustrates how youth action towards Africa’s greener future can be further accelerated through a tripartite approach that will activate, train and equip them so that they can unleash their full entrepreneurial potential. To this end, the publication lays out a roadmap, using the core competencies and attributes of African youth, which include: high demographics, enthusiasm, technological savvy and professionalism. The publication finally presents innovative recommendations on the methods, mechanisms and actions that can be taken to enhance strategic youth action towards a greener Africa that prospers through sustainability. The publication is available online on http://www.unep.org/roa

Statement by the Director, UNEP Regional Office for Africa

15th Ordinary session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)

“Managing Africa’s Natural Capital for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication”

Statement by the Director, UNEP Regional Office for Africa

Your Excellency Dr Khaled Fahmy, Minister of State for Environmental Affairs

The Representative of the African Union Commission

The Representative of the President of AMCEN

Your Excellency Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure and honour to address you all here at the 15th Ordinary session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) aptly themed: "Managing Africa’s Natural Capital for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication".

Allow me first and foremost to thank the Government and the people of  the Arab Republic of Egypt  for this opportunity given to us to convene this workshop and for all the great assistance provided for  the successful deliberations of our sessions. We are deeply grateful to Egypt as this country convened our very first meeting of AMCEN here in Cairo thirty years ago , and we have come back to Cairo this year.

A lot has changed in those 30 years. Back then,  there were only around 500million people in Africa - today there are more than 1billion. Back then, growth was slow, progress sluggish and since the first AMCEN, Africa’s GDP has tripled.  In the last 5 years 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies were in Africa.

The central theme of the AMCEN 15 the Session is ‘Managing Natural Capital for poverty eradication and sustainable development’. Africa is endowed with immense natural capital and these invaluable assets needs to be used in the best way possible to foster economic growth, social welfare and sustainable livelihoods. The natural capital potential for the continent is indeed huge.  Africa is endowed of 40% of the biodiversity of the world and 60% of the uncultivated arable land. Renewable energy is immense as Africa is using less than 7 % of its hydroelectricity and less than 2 % of what geothermal energy can offer.  The majority of the African countries receive an average of 325 days/year of bright sunlight and more than 80 % of the landscape is receiving more than 2000 KW/h per square meter and per year. Wind power is available and still insufficiently tapped.  Economic growth is expected to remain strong (among the highest in the world).  

We are now preparing for the Post 2015 era. Africa is set for strong future growth, both in terms of its population, and its economy. By 2050, we are expected to be over 2bn people – double today number, with more than half who will leave in cities. The majority of the population is composed of youth and this will remain for the decades to come. This population increase will drive energy demand, food consumption and transport requirements, demand for jobs and social services, increased investments in infrastructure.   

The growth we want,  needs to continue to be robust, inclusive and we want it to be sustainable.  We are however still grappling with intractable challenges: climate change is threatening the development gains of the continent. We have not been successful in reducing poverty significantly and inequality is widening.  Eight (8) out of the 10 most food insecure countries are in Africa . 

Another environmental asset not well managed is the air we breathe (10 000 liters/day). According to the recent assessment of WHO, air pollution is fast becoming one of the leading causes of illness and death in developing countries, and  leads to  more than 700,000 deaths annually in Africa (from outdoor and indoor air pollution).  

While the continent is characterized by remarkable biodiversity, the diversity is declining. In 2014, a total number of 6,419 animals and 3,148 plants in Africa were recorded as threatened with extinction.  Illegal trade of wildlife is part of the constraints to development as it contributes to weaken the economy and serve also terrorist groups in some parts of the continent. In one African country, Rhino poaching increases by 7,700% between 2007 and 2013. This illicit trade of wildlife is contributing also to the illicit financial flow that is crippling our economies.  It is estimated that Africa loses in excess of USD50billion annually from IFFs including illegal trade of fauna and flora.

Then we cannot continue business as usual.  Research by WWF identifies that the Ecological Footprint of all African countries increased by 240% between 1961 and 2008.   Worldwide we are pushing the planetary boundaries to their extreme limits. Resource exploitation exceeds the earth biological capacity by more than 25%. Humanity has increased the global ecological footprint: 0.5 Earth in 1950 to more than 1’25 Earth today. We may soon need 2 or more planets to satisfy our needs unless we curb the trends of resource depletion.  But we have only one planet, one Africa. There is no plan B.

 It is gratifying and encouraging to note the great effort made by African countries in engaging in a sustainable development path. Transitioning to green economy provides an opportunity for Africa to harness the full potential of its rich natural resource endowments for domestic revenue sourcing to compliment global support in financing sustainable development.

The Post 2015 agenda and SDGs will offer great opportunity for a green growth scenario in the continent. I would like to take this opportunity to laud the effort of the African Union and NEPAD in providing leadership in this area and to thank African Development Bank, ECA, WWF, UNIDO, ILO, UNDP,  IUCN , our partners from the North and the South  and many others for the great cooperation in support to Africa in its effort to transition to green economy.

In light of the foregoing, 2015 is set to be a strategic year for Africa. This year marks a crucial shift in the way the world and Africa will deal with their own development, with three decisive conferences:  the 70th UN GA on post 2015 agenda in September, the financing for development in July , and climate change in December that should create a more conducive setting for sustainable development.

Environment is an important component of these agendas. It has to be adequately taken into account alongside the economic and social dimension.  At the International level but also at the regional, national and local level let’s work together with a sense of renewed commitment for effective sustainable development that will create the conditions for the ‘Africa we want’, the Africa  that provides peace and prosperity for all in sound managed environment.

I thank you 




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