UNEP staff and Chinese experts attending the side event on UNEP-China-Africa Cooperation on the Environment at AMCEN

The 14th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) held a side event on UNEP-China-Africa Cooperation on the Environment. The event, which was part of the overall meeting of AMCEN, which took place in Arusha, Tanzania, was organized to inform the participants about the objectives, achievements, major outcomes as well as opportunities provided by the UNEP-China-Africa Cooperation Program on the Environment in the context of an inclusive Green Economy and Sustainable Development in Africa.

Starting from 2008, UNEP has established, with the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST), a cooperation agreement to build the capacity of African countries in the fields of ecosystem management, disaster reduction, climate change adaptation and renewable energy. This is known as the UNEP-China-Africa Cooperation Program on the Environment. The Program also aims to promote, through UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa (ROA), interventions within the UNEP South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism.

Under ROA’s coordination, four demand-driven projects, which cover areas such as shared water resources monitoring, waste water treatment and re-use, early warning systems for droughts and adaptation and rainwater harvesting, were implemented in Africa in Phase I of the UNEP-China-Africa Cooperation Program. In November 2011, two more projects were added. Currently, the Program has entered a new phase, around the theme “One River, One Lake, One Desert”, targeting the Nile River, Lake Tanganyika and the Sahara Desert.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Monem, the Regional Team Leader for Ecosystem Management of ROA and UNEP’s focal point for the Program, said: “ROA/UNEP has been acting as the bridge between China and African countries. In addition to its coordinating role, UNEP also provides technical support to the implementation of the projects in partnership with the national teams and Chinese institutes.”

According to Professor Li Fengting, the Deputy Dean of the UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development (IESD) in Shanghai, China, the six projects under the Program have been implemented in 16 African countries. Objectives of the projects are achieved through joint research, training workshops, visiting scholar programs, pilot projects and educational programs, among others. The projects, funded by MOST, are jointly implemented by technical institutes in China and the participating countries in Africa. In addition, he pointed out that there are scholarships for African students to study in Tongji University.

AMCEN is a permanent forum where African ministers of the environment discuss the environment of the continent. The session consisted of meetings of the Expert Group which were followed by a ministerial segment. The conference was attended by representatives from 45 AMCEN member States at the level of Vice President (Comoros), Ministers (25), Permanent Secretaries, Ambassadors, and leading African climate change negotiators, high level experts from ministries of environment. Those who attended included representatives of international organizations, secretariats of various environmental conventions, including the Deputy Executive Secretary ECA, Executive Secretary of UNCCD, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of GEF, financial institutions, research institutes, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and youth groups. The European Union was represented by the Commissioner for Climate Action.