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South Africa Government

09/16/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/16/2021 04:12

Minister Barbara Creecy: 18th Ordinary Session of African Ministerial Conference on Environment virtual meeting

Opening remarks by her Excellency, Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment of the Republic of South Africa on the occasion of part one of the 18th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) virtual meeting

H.E. Mr Abdul Karim Sall, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Senegal and incoming President of AMCEN;
Fellow Ministers;
Your Excellency, Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and the Sustainable Environment of the African Union:
Ms Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives from the AMCEN Secretariat;
Representatives of other United Nations entities;
Representatives of non-governmental organisations;
Senior officials from Ministries responsible for the Environment in the respective countries;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good day!

It is my pleasure and honour to welcome you all to the first part of the 18th Ordinary Session of the AMCEN Meeting, which is taking place in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. This Pandemic has affected all facets of our lives and I wish to extend my condolences to all those who have lost loved ones, friends and colleagues.

From an environmental perspective, we took decisions last year to respond to the impact of this Pandemic in such a way that we will give hope to our people. In line with this year's theme for the 18th Ordinary Session of AMCEN, 'Securing people's well-being and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa', securing and restoring people's livelihoods should be a priority in the wake of this Pandemic.

Since the 17th Ordinary Session of AMCEN, which took place in Durban, South Africa in November 2019, much has changed and our lives have been affected in ways that we could not have imagined at that time. Despite the challenges, I am pleased to report that there has been significant progress on the implementation of decisions emanating from the 17th Ordinary Session, which was aptly themed, 'Taking Action for Environmental Sustainability and Prosperity in Africa'.

Honourable Ministers,

I wish to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the achievements of AMCEN over the past two years. You may recall that the seventeenth ordinary session adopted a decision on Africa's Climate Change priorities and key policy messages. This decision and key messages were used as a basis for Africa's common negotiating position during the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP25) in Madrid, Spain in December 2019.

The 17th Ordinary Session took a decision to establish a core group of the African Group of Negotiators on Biodiversity in developing a common regional position to strengthen Africa's voice on biodiversity. I am pleased to report that the African Group of Negotiators on Biodiversity has since been engaging and articulating African perspectives, priorities and common positions during the meetings of the open-ended working group on the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and in the preparations for the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15).

The AMCEN 17th Ordinary Session also took a decision requesting the African Group to engage and develop a common African approach to the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, prior to that session in 2021. It will be recalled that due to Covid-19, a two-stage approach was adopted of holding a short online session as the first part of the fifth session of the Environment Assembly in February 2021 to consider procedural issues, to be followed by a resumed in-person session in 2022 to consider substantive matters was put in place. Member States and the Africa Group based in Nairobi successfully raised Africa's voice and contributed to the outcomes of first part of the fifth session of the Environment Assembly.

Regarding the Africa Environment Partnership Platform, the African Union Development Agency in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo convened the 2nd edition of the Africa Environment Partnership Platform on 8 and 9 September 2021.

The 2nd edition deliberated upon ways to strengthen the coordination mechanisms of the platform through enhanced engagement with its stakeholders, and examine opportunities for using the environment as a vehicle for post-Covid recovery and sustainability, and promote synergies between this Platform and the African Green Stimulus Programme.

Honourable Ministers,

The Eighth Special Session of the Conference took place online on 30 November and 1 December 2020 for the experts and 4 December 2020 for the ministerial segment under the theme 'Enhancing environmental action for effective post-Covid-19 recovery in Africa'. The 8th Special Session recognized that the Covid-19 pandemic had placed additional pressure on Africa's socio-economic development and efforts to achieve sustainable development and called for continued efforts to conserve, protect and enhance the resilience of Africa's environment in order to avoid similar crises in future. The session agreed to adopt the continental-wide African Green Stimulus Programme to support the continent's recovery to the devastating socio-economic and environmental impacts of the Covid-19 in a sustainable manner.

You may recall that Africa's expectations in the upcoming Conferences of Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD COP15) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26) and key messages and positions for these COPs were adopted as well as a ministerial statement as outcomes of this Session.

However, it is recognised that with further developments which have taken place during the course of 2021 in terms of preparing for these Conferences of Parties, these messages and Africa's positions need to be revisited and may need to be refined, focused and strengthened. These therefore form part of the agenda for the first part of the 18th Ordinary Session.

Two formal meetings of the Bureau of the Conference were held during the period since the 17th Ordinary Session. The thirtieth meeting of the Bureau of the Conference took place on 28 May 2020 while the thirty-first meeting of the Bureau of the Conference took place from 26 to 27 May 2021. These Bureau meetings were invaluable in guiding the work of AMCEN during the challenging inter-sessional period. Outcome statements of the key issues discussed at these Bureau meetings were circulated to all Member States to ensure that the Continent was kept informed of developments and ongoing work of AMCEN.

Honourable Ministers,

COVID-19 has shown the importance of technology in doing business and the benefits to the environment. In this regard, I am pleased that later today, we will be launching the on-line platform for the African Green Stimulus Programme which was first deliberated at the previous AMCEN Bureau meeting in May 2020.

The rapid progress in the development and implementation of this African-led and owned Programme is a source of pride for the Continent, more so as this Programme is intended to significantly contribute to Africa's green recovery from the impacts of the Pandemic and support the Continent's journey towards a sustainable and low-carbon development pathway.

Fellow Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

It has been both an honour and privilege to preside over this august Conference over the past two years. I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the support afforded to me by the AMCEN Bureau and all Member States as well as the AMCEN Secretariat during my Presidency. As outgoing President of AMCEN, I wish extend my best wishes to my successor, Minister Sall of the Republic of Senegal, and Honourable Minister, please be assured of my support for as long as it is needed.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to constructive engagements that will bear fruit that will take our beloved Continent on a pathway to a green recovery and sustainable development, as envisaged in Agenda 2063, the Africa We Want during this first part of the 18th Ordinary Session.

May AMCEN continue from strength to strength.

I thank you.