Africa Environment Ministers to Take Action for Sustainable Development

Durban, 14 November 2019 – Under the theme ‘Taking action for Environment Sustainability and Prosperity in Africa’, the 17th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) opened today at the Olive Convention Centre in the coastal city of Durban in South Africa.

The Conference focuses on greening the economy in Africa; advancing the circular economy; the development of a blue economy; biodiversity loss; land degradation; desertification, drought and climate change.

The environment ministers will discuss the need for African countries to take practical actions, including implementating policies and relevant regional and global frameworks, for the continent to attain environmental sustainability and prosperity, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

The 17th AMCEN Conference is expected to inspire and mobilise actions leading to a greater accounting of the progress made so far and the gaps that remain, with a robust monitoring system helping to spot shortcomings and ensure that the decisions made at AMCEN are properly implemented.

“As environment ministers, we must shoulder the responsibility for mobilizing the global community to act on climate change, food insecurity, poverty and environmental pollution. Our theme is a call to member states to scale up actions to implement AMCEN’s decisions and address the environmental challenges that most of our countries continue to encounter,” said Lee White, the outgoing President of AMCEN. “There is, therefore, still a lot of hard work ahead of us as we make efforts to implement the sustainable development goals and the Paris agreement, among other global frameworks.”

In its 34 years in existence, AMCEN has grown to become the central forum for environmental policy making in Africa. Ministerial discussions will also focus on speeding up the implementation of decisions by introducing new and innovative mechanisms at national and regional levels to accelerate the achievement of the Continent’s sustainable development.

“The solutions are in our hands – whether it is to halve emissions by 2030; craft out a new relationship with nature; or transform the way we live, produce and consume. And we also know that time is of the essence. The window for environmental action is shrinking” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which hosts the AMCEN Secretariat.

“We are already seeing great strides towards this future. From wildlife conservation, forest regeneration and conservation, pollution control and legislation on single-use plastic, adoption of green economy approaches, Africa has much success to report. More than 90 percent of countries have ratified their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – the most of any region in the world.  Governments across the continent have established policy frameworks for ambitious climate action,” she added.

Ministers are expected to support a call for the creation of a cross-sectoral taskforce in each country to ensure that environmental policies are harmonised across government departments.

In attendance are representatives from the 54 African Member States, including finance and industrial sectors.  This year’s Conference also brings on board a wide range of stakeholders from line ministries, private sector, civil society and development partners.

The five-day programme consists of a meeting of the expert group from 11 to 13 November, and a ministerial segment on 14 and 15 November. A pre-AMCEN civil society meeting has been ongoing since the 9th; its outcome will feed into the deliberations of the conference.

South Africa will assume the rotating Presidency of AMCEN from Gabon for the next two years, and a new Bureau for the conference will be elected.

South Africa will assume the rotating Presidency of AMCEN from Gabon for the next two years, and a new Bureau for the conference will be elected.