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AU Summit Focuses on Unity and Integration through Shared Values

31 January 2011: The 16th Summit of the African Union (AU), which took place from 24-31 January 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme "Towards greater unity and integration through shared values," considered, among other pressing issues, the impact of climate change and international cooperation.

In a speech delivered at the Summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted partnerships with the private sector, noting that development depends in large part on productive enterprises and vibrant trade. He said the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Advocacy Group is working with  governments and the private sector to help achieve development goals. He also noted that Africa is ideally placed to pioneer a new green economy and that with its abundant solar, wind and geothermal resources, it can become an important user and exporter of clean energy.

Finally, he stressed the need for a practical, 21st century model of development that connects all the dots between poverty reduction, climate change, food, water and energy. Ban recalled that, in 2010, he established a high-level panel on global sustainability to look into these issues in a broader and more comprehensive way, hoping that its deliberations will inform the ongoing climate negotiations. Noting progress achieved in Cancun, he expressed his optimism for the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011, and urged all governments to strengthen their national efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience.

The Summit adopted 30 decisions three declarations and one resolution covering a braod range of issues in the fields of development, peace and security, climate change and biodiversity.

The decision on climate change requests the AU Commission to: liaise with South Africa on preparations for an African pavilion during COP 17; make adequate preparations to support African negotiators in the preparations for COP 17; and convene an African Conference of Minsters responsible for climate change to finalize the documents as part of the preparations for COP 17.

The decision on the follow up the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which took place in October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan, agrees, among other items: to include biological diversity among the priorities of the AU; and encourage AU member States to become parties to all biodiversity-related conventions.

With regard to sustainable development, the Summit took decisions on: the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD); recognizing women as a resource for sustainable development and economic growth in Africa; and the outcomes of the Yaoundé International Conference “Africa 21” – Global Partnership for the Development of Africa. [UN Press Release] [African Union Press Release 1 February] [Summit Website] [AU Press Release 31 January] [Decisions Declarations and Resolution]