There has been progress on the policy
front as the region took steps to consolidate the African Renaissance.
Various structures and policy measures of the new African Union (AU)
were strengthened, the most significant of which was the adoption by
heads of state and governments of a new environmental action plan. The
second session of the Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Government
endorsed the Action Plan for the Environment Initiative of the New Partnership
for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in July 2003. (Box 1).
1: the NEPAD Environment Action Plan
The Action Plan of the Environment Initiative of the New
Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was prepared
to promote Africa’s sustainable development and assist
the region to confront its short-term economic growth challenges
without losing sight of the long-term environmental, poverty
eradication and social development imperatives.
The action plan is organized in clusters of programmatic
and project activities to be implemented over an initial
period of 10 years. Programme areas cover the following
priority sectors and crosscutting issues:
- combatting land degradation, drought and desertification;
- invasive species;
- marine and coastal resources;
- cross-border conservation of natural resources; and
- climate change.
The plan also addresses the related problems of pollution,
forests and plant genetic resources, freshwater, capacity
building and technology transfer. The implementation of
the plan is a challenge which will require the support and/or
active participation by African countries and development
|Source: AU 2003a
The other significant policy development was the adoption by the AU
Assembly of the revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature
and Natural Resources (Box 2).
2: African nature convention adopted
The 1968 African Convention on the Conservation
of Nature and Natural Resources was revised in 2003 with support
from UNEP and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The new text makes the African Convention a comprehensive and
modern regional treaty on environment and natural resources
conservation, the first to deal with a wide spectrum of sustainable
development issues, including land and soil, water, and biological
diversity conservation and sustainable use. It also addresses
processes and activities which affect the environment and natural
resources, as well as their relationship with sustainable development.
The convention provides for procedural rights (to information,
participation and access to justice), echoing Principle 10 of
the Rio Declaration. It encourages cooperation among parties
to implement the convention, and whenever transboundary effects
are likely to occur, and provides mechanisms including an independent
The revised convention will enter into force once it has been
ratified by 15 African states
|Source: AU 2003b
This updates and strengthens the 1968 Convention and boosts the commitment
by African governments to a collective approach to biodiversity conservation
in the region. Africa’s commitment to biodiversity conservation
was further reinforced by the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance
Ministerial Declaration of October 2003, which recognizes that the biodiversity
of Africa’s forest ecosystems is essential for the livelihoods of
the African people (IISD 2003). The declaration highlights problems of
illegal logging, a move that should pave the way for strong legislation
supportive of sustainable forest management, fair profit-sharing and poverty
|Several African countries announced new protected areas showing
commitment to biodiversity conservation.
Source: Still Pictures
The Vth World Parks Congress, about two months after
the AU second Assembly, reinforced Africa’s commitment to biodiversity
conservation, with several countries in the region announcing the
establishment of new protected areas.
Africa made significant progress in 2003 to phase out leaded vehicle
fuel, whose emissions are both an environmental and human health risk.
A UNEP survey found that most African countries will be using lead-free
petrol, or should be close to phasing out lead from vehicle fuel,
by the end of 2005. Countries such as Cape Verde, Egypt, Ghana, Libya,
Mauritius and Mauritania are already fully lead-free. Other countries
that have drawn up action plans to phase out lead by 2005 include
Eritrea, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo and Uganda. (UNEP 2003b,
World Bank 2003b