The Fifteenth Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) has ended in Cairo, Egypt. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and opened by the Prime Minister His Excellency Ibrahim Mahlab. The Prime Minister welcomed all delegates stressing that Egypt was privileged to host the AMCEN session 30 years after the first session was held in Cairo in 1985. He praised the work of AMCEN as truly remarkable, especially with regards to its role in bringing together African countries to face challenges linked to the environment and sustainable development in Africa. He further commended AMCEN for being at the forefront of providing political guidance by supporting most African countries to adopt common positions on the environment and in ratifying many multilateral environmental agreements.
Under the theme "Managing Africa’s Natural Capital for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication" the 15th AMCEN Session was held between 2-6 March, 2015 with Experts and Ministerial Sessions taking place. AMCEN is the principal intergovernmental policy-making body on environment in Africa responsible for providing regional vision and leadership on Environment in Africa.
The outgoing President of AMCEN Dr. Binilith Mahenge, Minister of Environment of the United Republic of Tanzania thanked member states for the support offered to Tanzania during its tenure as president of AMCEN. Dr. Mahenge outlined the guidance provided to the African climate change negotiators in developing the key messages and common position of Africa. Dr. Khaled Mohamed Fahmy Abdel Aal, Egypt’s Minister of Environment who assumed the rotational presidency of AMCEN for the next two years expressed gratitude for his country’s selection as the new president of the Ministerial Forum and commended his predecessor for facilitating and broadening political and public policy debate regarding environmental priorities and concerns in Africa. Solidarity messages were delivered by Ms. Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ms. Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development of France, Mr. Braulio de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Other messages came from the Government of India, the European Union, African Development Bank, the World Bank and Civil Society Organizations.
An Experts Group Meeting preceded the ministerial session and provided an opportunity for experts to review and analyse the implementation of the Regional Flagship Programmes as well as the outcomes of the twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP20) that was held in Lima, Peru in December 2014.
The NEPAD Agency as the coordinating institution of the Regional Flagship Programmes which were adopted by AMCEN as a means to implement the outcomes of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development provided a progress on the implementation of the flagship programmes. AMCEN welcomed the progress in the development of the flagship programmes and called for stronger coordination and support from member states, partners and the private sector.
The Steering Committee of the Regional Flagship Programme held its 2nd meeting on the margins of the AMCEN Session to take stock of the implementation of the Regional Flagship Programmes and enhancing coordination in reporting. The Committee also discussed amongst others the operationalization of the African Environment Partnership Platform as a monitoring, evaluation and experience sharing on the implementation on the Flagship. The session was co-chaired by Hon. Yasmine Fouad, Assistant Minister for Sustainable Development and External Affairs of the Ministry of Environment, Egypt and Mrs. Estherine Fotabong, Director of programmes at NEPAD Agency.
A side event on linking the Land Degradation, Biodiversity and Adaptation to Climate Change (LDBA) Flagship programme on sustainable land management and desertification to a holistic and integrated landscapes approach also took place during the AMCEN session. The event convened by NEPAD Agency attracted participation from member states, development partners, regional institutions and civil society groups.
The 15th AMCEN Session also took stock of the on-going climate change negotiations which have entered a critical stage towards an expected legal agreement in December, 2015 during the twenty first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21) to be held in Paris later in the year.
The session also offered an opportunity for Ministers and experts to review the state of environment in Africa and deliberate on pertinent issues and initiatives related to the environment and sustainable development in the continent. In particular, deliberations highlighted issues related to the Post-2015 activities, including sustainable development goals, and illegal trade in wildlife and its implications for Africa.
The next AMCEN Ordinary Session will be held in Gabon in 2017.