The seventh special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) is currently underway in Nairobi with a key focus on African biodiversity.
Running from September 17 to 19, the event themed “Turning Environmental Policies into Action through Innovative Solutions” will address the need to invest in innovative solutions and interventions and promote sustainable consumption and production in the continent.
Ministers are deliberating on key messages for the forthcoming African Biodiversity Ministerial Summit which will be held in Egypt in November this year, prior to the 2018 UN Conference on Biodiversity.
The African continent holds 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves, roughly 65 per cent of its arable land and 10 per cent of its internal renewable energy sources.
Its fisheries are estimated to be worth 24 billion USD and the continent hosts the second largest tropical forest in the world. Targeted environmental policies have the potential to provide solutions to sustainable socio-economic development and poverty alleviation across Africa.
At the conference, ministers will particularly look at how to enhance the political will to address the challenges of environmental degradation and increase investments in innovative solutions to sustainably maximize on the benefit from the continent’s abundant natural resources.
Ecosystem degradation costs Africa USD 68 billion annually coupled with losses of up to 6.6 million tonnes of the potential grain harvest, capable of meeting calorific needs of up to 31 million people.
In addition, post-harvest losses are estimated at 48 billion USD annually.
“Africa should focus on making a paradigm shift through practical innovative actions so that we can benefit at the maximum levels,” said Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UN Environment regional director for Africa.
She added, “We have made strides through AMCEN by taking policy reform directions to promote and strengthen innovative and environmentally sound actions that can ensure sustainable use of Africa’s natural capital.”
Among other key issues to be discussed is Africa’s preparation for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held from 3 to 14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.
The conference is held back to back with the first meeting of the Africa Environment Partnership Platform which will take place from 20 to 21 September. The aim of the Africa Environment Partnership Platform is to promote sustainable environmental management in Africa through enhanced partnership, coordination and harmonization of activities.
Representatives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), sub-regional economic communities, the African Development Bank, civil society organizations, United Nations agencies as well as other bilateral and multilateral partners will also participate in this special session.
The conference is expected to adopt a declaration, a set of decisions and key messages, and the outcomes of the seventh special session of AMCEN will feed into the 4th session of the UN Environment Assembly meeting to be held in March 2019 at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.