South Africa is ready to assume The Presidency of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment

13 November 2019

South Africa will, on 14 and 15 November 2019, host the 17th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban.

Convened under the theme “Taking Action for Environmental Sustainability and Prosperity in Africa”, the 17th Ordinary Session of AMCEN will focus on the Green Economy in Africa.  This economic sector is underpinned by, amongst others, the Circular Economy, Green Business and Green Financing, the promotion of the Biodiversity Economy and Natural Capital Accounting, as well as the Oceans Economy.

“It is my sincere hope that in line with the theme of this conference, there will be a greater focus on implementation in the short term and, in following a business-unusual course of action trajectory.  The people of the Continent are looking to use for inclusive solutions and meaningful action at the grassroots level in addressing the plethora of environmental challenges we are facing today,”  said the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy.

Minister Creecy, the incoming chair of AMCEN, said the African Union’s Vision 2063 requires that urgent action be taken by all to halt unsustainable use of natural resources and ensure that the Continent is placed on a growth trajectory that will meet the needs of present and future generations.

“Sound management of natural resources provides the economic case for environmental management and sustainable development. By facilitating the scaling-up of labour-intensive natural management programmes, African governments can contribute to decent work and sustainable livelihood opportunities for the unemployed, thereby reducing poverty in many communities living adjacent to protected areas,”  she said.

The Minister said of equal importance is discussion on the upscaling of manufacturing utilising Africa’s unique resource base, as well as preventing and combating the illegal trade in natural resources.  This is particularly relevant with the recent adoption of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which is intended to promote and enhance intra-African trade. Issues related to sovereignty are central to prevent over-exploitation of resources, which would deprive future generations in African countries of their natural heritage.

This week South Africa takes over the Chair from Gabon until 2021. Chairing this strategic Ministerial forum comes at a time when AMCEN is playing an increasingly prominent role in coordinating African positions on key issues for the United Nations Environment Assembly.

“As the incoming President of AMCEN, our country hopes to strengthen this body within the multilateral system of both the African Union and the United Nations Environment Assembly,” said Minister Creecy.

This week’s meeting is expected to be attended by around 500 delegates from governments, United Nations agencies, civil society, academia and the youth.  It is divided into parallel session with a specific focus on emerging environmental issues and the implementation of the various strategies, protocols and declarations that member states are party to in order to ensure environmental protection and conservation in Africa. During the first three days, senior officials will meet to prepare for the two-day High Level Ministerial Session.

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Albi Modise

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Editor’s note:

AMCEN was established in Cairo in 1985 following the adoption of the Cairo Programme for African Cooperation. For over 30 years, AMCEN has facilitated the broadening of the political and public policy debate regarding Africa’s environmental priorities and concerns. As the permanent forum of Africa’s environment ministers, it aims to strengthen cooperation between African governments on economic, technical and scientific activities in order to halt the degradation of Africa’s environment.