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AMCEN 13 Focuses on Rio Conventions, Prepares for Cancun

25 June 2010: The 13th Session of the African Ministers' Conference on Environment (AMCEN) took place in Bamako, Mali, from 20-25 June 2010, under the theme “Enhancing the interrelationship between climate change, biodiversity and desertification for sustainable development.” The meeting concluded with the adoption of the Bamako Declaration, which was developed to serve as the continent's new road map for sustainable development and basis for strengthening the common negotiating position on climate change and biological diversity. 

The session aimed to provide a platform for environment ministers to deliberate on substantive issues of importance to Africa, including ongoing negotiations on climate change and biodiversity. A ministerial dialogue reviewed progress towards: Africa's development of a common negotiating position on a comprehensive international climate change regime beyond 2012; the development of a comprehensive framework of African climate change programmes; and Africa's preparations for developing a common negotiating position on the international regime on access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources (ABS).

The Ministerial segment on climate change discussed: the outcomes of the meetings of the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11 May 2010, and in Bamako, Mali, on 23 June 2010; and the salient aspects of the comprehensive framework of African climate change programmes, including opportunities presented by climate change responses, in addition to the institutional arrangements in Africa for managing and using climate funding provided by the international community. The ministerial dialogue on desertification focused on the links between desertification, land degradation and climate change, particularly on efforts needed to combat climate change in Africa taking into account measures for sustainable land and water management.

At the opening of the session, Buyelwa Sonjica, South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, stressed that the AMCEN 13 theme presents a useful approach to expanding the strategic focus of AMCEN to include "other important environmental issues facing the continent - in addition and in relation to the challenges posed by climate change."

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission (AUC), stressed that climate change is a developmental emergency for Africa and urged contextualizing the next round of global climate change negotiations into the development agenda. She underscored that the AUC, in partnership with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency and the EU, is currently engaged in discussions to ensure that agriculture is taken forward in the climate change negotiations. She stressed that Africa does not need to compromise its economic growth due to mitigation efforts, but rather should push for access to affordable technology for a green economy. She reported that the 23rd June CAHOSCC meeting deliberated on how best to organize the coordinating structure of CAHOSCC at ministers and experts levels, and that their recommendations will be considered by the Heads of State and Government during the July Summit in Kampala, Uganda. She also noted an initiative by the UN Secretary-General to set up a High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, to ensure the interconnectivity between food security, climate change, access to water and energy among others, in which Africa will be represented.

AMCEN 13 was preceded by the third meeting of African high-level expert panel on climate change, held on 20 June 2010, which discussed: a draft AMCEN climate change communication strategy; a draft comprehensive framework of African climate change programmes; climate change, clean technology and green growth opportunities; air pollution abatement in relation to other environmentally-friendly initiatives: the case of sustainable transport in Africa; carbon market, innovation and Arabic gum; and the status of the international climate change negotiations.

The UN Environment Progarmme (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa serves as the Secretariat to AMCEN. [AMCEN 13 Website] [Sonjica's Speech] [Tumusiime's Speech]