Friday, February 27, 2015

Egypt to host African Ministerial Conference on the Environment

By Arison TAMFU

Egyptian capital, Cairo gets set to host a high-level conference on environment dubbed African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) from March 1 to 7 which will provide guidance with respect to key regional policies and initiatives related to the environment and sustainable development. AMCEN holds its ordinary sessions once every two or three years.  The session will consist of a meeting of the expert group, to be held from 2 to 4 March, and a ministerial segment, to be held on 5 and 6 March. The opening ceremony for the ministerial segment will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday, 4 March 2015.

Deliberations at the fifteenth session of AMCEN will focus on harnessing Africa’s environmental assets,looking at policies and strategies to support Africa’s economic transformation and growth. Activities will be guided be the theme "Managing Africa’s Natural Capital forSustainable Development and Poverty Eradication".

`The session will provide an opportunity for ministers and experts to review andanalyse the outcomes of the twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP20) that was held in Lima, Peru inDecember 2014. The on-going climate change negotiations have entered a critical stage towards the2015 legal agreement and this session will be an opportune platform to review issues at stake for thecontinent and agree on a roadmap in preparation for the twenty first session of the Conference of theParties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21) to beheld in Paris later in the year` said a statement released by United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP.

The conference will lay emphasis on the issues ofPost-2015 activities, including sustainable development goals, and illegal trade in wildlife and its implications for Africa, the statement said.
The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) was established in December 1985, following a conference of African ministers of environment held in Cairo , Egypt . Its mandate is to provide advocacy for environmental protection in Africa; to ensure that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner; to ensure that social and economic development is realized at all levels; and to ensure that agricultural activities and practices meet the food security needs of the region.

According to UNEP, AMCEN is currently holding discussions with the African Union Commission (AUC) on issues related to the harmonisation and linkages between the Ministerial Conference and the AUC. It is expected that AMCEN would ultimately become a Specialized Technical Committee (STC) of the African Union Commission in line with the AU Summit's Sirte Declaration of February 2004.

The conference comes barely a month after the first negotiation session of UN talks on climate closed in Geneva with an increasing focus on the need for immediate action on climate change. The talks produced the first draft of a possible "Paris Agreement" which will be negotiated throughout the year, before being finally agreed in the French capital in December.

`There is now a draft text produced in a transparent process, that's a basis for serious negotiations in June. If they continue with this way of working we may avoid the controversies of last minute texts that haunt past UN summits. However, it was concerning to see developed countries blocking a proper discussion on the need for urgent pre-2020 action` said Meena Raman, Negotiations Expert at Third World Network.

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