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AMCEN meets to refine strategies for a climate deal

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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The special session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) was held on Sunday 06 December 2015 in Paris, France, in preparation for the high level segment of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties (CMP11). The day-long AMCEN meeting was aimed at deliberating and reaching to common consensus of key and strategic priority issues for Africa in the negotiations for the 2015 new climate change agreement.

The meeting, organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) and AMCEN Secretariat, was graced by the presence of H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations who met the representatives of AMCEN for a consultation prior to the official opening. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister of Environment, Egypt and President of AMCEN.

At the opening of the ministerial session, H.E. Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the AU Commission pointed out the impacts of climate change on development in Africa was due to the fact that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in most countries are dependent on climate sensitive sectors such as; agriculture, livestock and fisheries, tourism, and energy. “The continent contributes the least to greenhouse gases (GHGs), but suffers most on the adverse impacts of climate change because of its vulnerability and limited adaptation capacity”, she said.

In the spirit of Agenda 2063, she encouraged ministers to continue in solidarity to speak with one voice in the wisdom of our African leaders; to be strategic in our approach; to fraternize and have alliances with like-minded regions on key issues to ensure that Paris delivers the dividends to save planet earth and mother Africa from the verge of extinction to reduce global warming...” the commissioner urged. (The complete speech of the commissioner is available on www.au.int/en).

Representing the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Mrs. Fatima Denton, Director for African Climate Policy Center, stressed that “climate change will upset all our development aspirations and will disrupt our hard won efforts to achieve sustainable development. The decision taken here will have tremendous implications on our weak, but growing economies; our infrastructure that need to act as a buffer to support our markets, roads, transport, and the like, and our people who remain resilient whatever the storm, climate or Cyclone”.

Officially opening the Ministerial session, Dr. Fahmy appreciated African Ministers for finding time to participate in this important meeting and commended the tremendous efforts the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) put in representing the interest of Africa in the negotiation process. “With high stakes at hand for the African continent, the time couldn't have been better for us to meet and get our act together for a better deal out of this conference”, the minister added.

In his presentation at the conference, Mr. Nagmeldin Gouthi El-Hassan, Chair of AGN highlighted key issues for Africa in the negotiation for the 2015 agreement, which include the overview of the negotiations, scenarios for legal nature of the agreement, key political and cross cutting issues, and ADP workstreams.

In his remarks, the Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw commended the leadership of Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) for providing the political leadership that has facilitated Africa to remain united. He further appreciated H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission for the role the AU Commission is playing in supporting the negotiators at the three tiers- CAHOSCC, AMCEN and AGN.