Arusha, Tanzania (PANA) - Africa’s sustainable development agenda being pursued in the wake of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) needs enhanced political visibility, according to a draft declaration hammered out here Tuesday at the experts' meeting preceding the 14th session of the African Ministerial Council on Environment (AMCEN).
The ministers, due to gather here Wednesday for the three-day session, are expected to adopt the declaration committing their countries to promote sustainable development through stronger economic integration as well as environmental and social dimensions in their development policies.
After a lengthy debate, the experts agreed on the text that urges all African governments to “continue speaking with one voice and ensure adequate representation of Africa in all committees established as a result of the UNCSD.”
The ministers are in addition expected to call on African states to develop a common engagement strategy that represents the interests of Africa in the intergovernmental process to be set up by the forthcoming 67th session of the UN General Assembly, as a follow-up to Rio+20.
Along with the debate on the declaration, the experts took time to discuss seven regional flagship programmes which the AMCEN secretariat has worked to support effective implementation of the UNCSD outcomes related to Africa.
But as the debate dragged on, there appeared to be some level of uncertainty about the process.
A Kenyan delegate said the flagships were not representative of the whole continent, while experts from Tunisia, Sierra Leone and Senegal, among several others, questioned the criteria used to decide on the flagship programmes.
The programmes are on Africa green economy partnership, Ecosystem-based adaptation for Africa, African programme on sustainable energy development, Partnership for sustainable consumption and production, integrated waste management, Integrated environmental assessment for sustainable development planning, and Africa-Brazil-China Cooperation for Africa’s Sustainable Development.
“In the absence of criteria that spell out why we have these proposals before us, it becomes difficult for all to go along with them. Where is the participation of my country in all these seven programmes?” queried a delegate from Botswana.
Tunisia, for its part, believes that redundancy characterised some of the proposed programmes, especially those concerning energy development and waste management.
“We have been asked to harmonise our development programmes but there is no clear vision of what should be done for a green economy. This will probably make us stumble and get nowhere to achieve sustainable development,” said the North African country’s delegate.
“These programmes are proposals from the AMCEN bureau. It is important that they should be based on shared criteria across the region so that they can attract participation from all African countries,” said Niger’s delegate.
The AMCEN secretariat, however, clarified the situation, saying there was no limitation on the seven programmes and more could be added.
Consensus on the issue was reached after the meeting agreed to form a small task force chaired by Burkina Faso to identify the criteria used to select the programmes.
The task force includes representatives of the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the UN Environment Programme.
The way forward for ‘Africa’s Post Rio+20 Strategy for Sustainable Development’, the theme of this biennial session of AMCEN, should be clear by the close of the ministerial conference.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 11Sept2012