Vol. 7 No. 2
The eighth African Union (AU) Summit took place at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 22-30 January 2007. The Summit included sessions of: the Permanent Representatives Committee, from 22-23 January; the Executive Council, from 25-26 January; and the AU Assembly, from 29-30 January. The main themes of the Summit were “Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development” and “Climate Change in Africa.”
At the close of its meeting, the Executive Council had adopted 33 decisions. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government agreed to 31 decisions and six declarations, many of which related to the Summit’s themes, including decisions on: the report of the Extraordinary Conference of the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology; climate change and development; Avian Flu; the establishment of a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization; the implementation of the Green Wall for the Sahara Initiative; and enhancing UN-AU Cooperation. The Assembly agreed to declare 2007 as the launching year of building constituencies and champions for science, technology and innovation in Africa, and endorsed the climate change plan entitled ‘Climate Information for Development Needs: An Action Plan for Africa – Report and Implementation Strategy’.
This briefing note summarizes some of the key statements and presentations from the meeting, as well as decisions and declarations agreed to by the Executive Council and Assembly that relate to the Summit’s themes.
Editors Note: IISD Reporting Services was not physically present at the AU Summit, and this briefing note was prepared based on official statements and decisions adopted at the Summit. IISD’s coverage of the AU Summit can be found at http://www.iisd.ca/africa/aauss/
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE AFRICAN UNION
The AU is the principal organization for the promotion of socioeconomic integration across the continent. It includes 53 African countries as member states, while Morocco has special status. The Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) called for its establishment in the Sirte Declaration on 9 September 1999, as a means to accelerate integration, so that Africa could play a significant role in the global economy, and to address shared social, economic and political problems. Its objectives include: achieving greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples of Africa; promoting and defending common African positions on issues; encouraging international cooperation; establishing enabling conditions for the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations; promoting sustainable development and integration of African economies; and advancing the continent’s development through research in all fields, particularly science and technology (S&T).
The principal organs of the AU include the: Assembly; Executive Council; Commission; Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC); Peace and Security Council; Pan-African Parliament; Economic, Social and Cultural Council; Court of Justice; Financial Institutions; and Specialized Technical Committees (STCs), which include the Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment. The outgoing AU Chair is the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and the incoming Chair is John Kufuor, President of Ghana.
ASSEMBLY: The AU Assembly is composed of the Heads of State and Government of AU member states or their accredited representatives. The Assembly acts as the supreme organ of the AU and is mandated to: determine the common policies of the Union; consider and take decisions on reports and recommendations from other AU bodies; consider requests for membership of the AU; establish any organ of the Union; monitor the implementation of AU policies and decisions as well ensure compliance by all member states; adopt the AU budget; give directives to the Executive Council on the management of conflicts, war and other emergency situations and the restoration of peace; appoint and terminate the appointment of judges of the Court of Justice; and appoint the Chairperson of the Commission, his or her deputies and Commissioners, and determine their functions and terms of office.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL: The Executive Council of Ministers of the AU is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs or other ministers or authorities designated by member states. The Executive Council meets at least twice a year in ordinary sessions. It can also meet in an extraordinary session at the request of any member state and upon approval by two-thirds of all member states. The Executive Council is mandated to coordinate and take decisions on policies in areas of common interest to the member states, including: foreign trade; energy, industry and mineral resources; food, agricultural and animal resources, livestock production and forestry; water resources and irrigation; environmental protection, humanitarian action and disaster response and relief; transport and communications; insurance; education, culture, health and human resources development; S&T; nationality, residency and immigration matters; and social security.
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE: The PRC consists of permanent representatives from all AU member states. It is responsible for preparing the work of the Executive Council and for acting on the Council’s instructions.
A briefing note that summarizes the outcomes of previous AU Summits as they relate to S&T, climate change and sustainable development, as well as other AU and international activities related to the Summit themes, can be found at http://www.iisd.ca/africa/aauss.
REPORT OF THE SUMMIT
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE
The thirteenth Ordinary Session of the PRC was held on Monday and Tuesday, 22-23 January and was presided over by the Chair of the PRC, Amb. Raymond Serge Bale (Republic of Congo). After opening statements and agreement on the agenda (PRC/1(XIII) Rev.1) and organization of work, delegates addressed a wide range of matters before adopting a report of their meeting. These matters included: administrative and financial issues, such as the draft 2007 budget; implementation matters, such as the report on implementation of previous decisions of the Executive Council and Summit; political matters; economic, social and cultural matters, such as the “Task Force” report on the strategic partnership between Africa and the emerging countries of the South (EX.CL/304 (X)); and the draft agenda for the tenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (EX.CL/1(X) Rev.1).
OPENING STATEMENT: PRC Chair Bale emphasized that the PRC meeting was being held to prepare for the tenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, in accordance with the AU Constitutive Act. He also highlighted the responsibility of the PRC to ensure effective follow-up on the implementation of decisions debated during the Summit, and reiterated that the PRC is at the center of the edification process of the AU.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AWARDS: In conjunction with the PRC meeting, a set of S&T awards, aimed at increasing the number of scientists in Africa by stimulating interest in science among young people, were announced on Tuesday. One such major awards scheme, to be funded by the AU Commission, is the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere AU Scholarship Scheme, which seeks to award over the next six months 50 scholarships for studying bachelor degrees in African universities, before expanding to cover postgraduate studies. Another award scheme, to be established by the AU and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), aims to reward the best innovation that addresses problems affecting Africa.
The tenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council was held on Thursday and Friday, 25-26 January. After listening to keynote speeches and agreeing to the agenda (EX.CL/1(X) Rev.1) and organization of work, delegates considered reports from a range of AU ministerial conferences, the AU Commission and the PRC among others. Delegates also considered the draft agenda of the eighth Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly and addressed a range of agenda items including the: report of the Extraordinary Conference of Ministers of Science and Technology; implementation of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) Work Programme for 2007-08; first Conference of AU Ministers Responsible for Hydrocarbons (Oil and Gas); and High-level African Regional Conference on the Contribution of Nuclear Energy to Peace and Sustainable Development.
This section summarizes one of the key statements from the meeting, as well as decisions taken by the Executive Council that relate to the Summit’s themes.
OPENING STATEMENT: After the meeting was opened by the Chair of the Executive Council, Rodolphe Adada, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo, delegates listened to several statements, including statements by Alpha Oumar Konaré, AU Commission Chair, and by Executive Council Chair Adada.
Another statement was given by Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), who focused on: the economic situation in Africa; the critical importance of the Summit theme of S&T for development; and steps taken to deepen collaboration between the UN and the AU since the seventh AU Summit held in June-July 2006. On the economic situation in Africa, ECA Executive Secretary Janneh said the recent, sustained growth momentum of African economies is underpinned by improvement in macroeconomic management, and strong global demand for key African export commodities, which have led to high export prices, particularly for crude oil, metals and minerals. He stressed however, that despite this trend of economic growth, evidence suggests that Africa is unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 unless “new and vigorous approaches” are adopted. In this context, he noted the theme of the ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, scheduled for 29 March to 3 April 2007: “Accelerating Africa’s Growth and Development to Meet the MDGs: Emerging Challenges and the Way Forward.”
On the Summit theme of “Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development,” the ECA Executive Secretary stressed that S&T is a vital element in the tool-kit for accelerating Africa’s development, highlighting the strong correlation between a country’s scientific and technological status and its economic performance and wealth. He said that to accelerate Africa’s development and achieve the MDGs, African countries need to scale up investments in S&T, noting prioritization of S&T by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). He then highlighted challenges in building Africa’s S&T development framework, including: weak links between the scientific community and political institutions in many African countries and the outdated nature of some national S&T policies; the allocation of less than 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research and development (R&D) in many countries, which is impinging on development, particularly the maintenance of food security; and a decline in the quality of science and engineering education, partly because of inadequate infrastructure.
On collaboration between the AU and the UN, he noted the signing, in November 2006, of the Declaration on Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation. He explained that the Declaration serves as the framework for the evolving UN Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the AU and is also an expression of the common commitment of the AU and the UN to work together on issues of peace and human security, human rights, post-conflict reconstruction and regional integration. He also stressed that the Declaration provides room for cooperation in the area of S&T, and expressed hope that the UN General Assembly will soon adopt a resolution endorsing the framework and providing the legislative authority for its implementation. He also informed delegates of a November 2006 decision to: expand the focus of the UN’s regional consultation mechanism (RCM) of UN agencies working in Africa to include UN support to the AU and NEPAD, and to create two new RCM Clusters – Peace and Security, and Industry, Trade and Market Access. He discussed efforts to increase cooperation between the AU, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the ECA, and he noted that ECA’s Business Plan for 2007-09 provides for a programme of action to scale-up ECA’s support for implementing the development priorities of the AU and NEPAD.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OUTCOMES: On Friday, the Executive Council adopted 33 decisions. This section summarizes decisions that relate to the Summit themes of “Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development” and “Climate Change in Africa.”
Decision on the Report of the Extraordinary Conference of Ministers of Science and Technology: In the decision (EX.CL/Dec.347 (X)), the Executive Council:
IISD’s report of the Extraordinary Conference can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/africa/amcost/.
Decision on the Implementation of the AMCEN-11 Work Programme for 2007-08: In the decision (EX.CL/Dec.322 (X)), the Executive Council:
Decision on the First Conference of AU Ministers Responsible for Hydrocarbons (Oil and Gas): In the decision (EX.CL/Dec.321 (X))), the Executive Council, among other actions:
Decision on the High-level African Regional Conference on the Contribution of Nuclear Energy to Peace and Sustainable Development: In the decision (EX.CL/Dec.339 (X)), the Executive Council, inter alia:
The eighth Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly was held on Monday and Tuesday, 29-30 January. Delegates launched 2007 as the International Year of the African Football (Assembly/AU/2 (VIII)) and considered elections for AU positions, including the AU Chair, and the bureaus of the Assembly, the Executive Council and the Drafting Committee. Delegates also listened to presentations and engaged in discussions on the Summit themes of “Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development” and “Climate Change in Africa.”
A range of other matters were also addressed, including: adoption of the 2007 AU budget; proposals for a Union Government; modalities for the election of Commission members; consideration of reports; various items proposed by member states, including an offer by Egypt to host the twenty-fifth Africa-France Summit in 2009; and the decisions and declarations of the ninth and tenth Ordinary Sessions of the Executive Council.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Heads of State and Government met in a closed session to deliberate on decisions and declarations arising out of the Summit. The Assembly then reconvened near midnight to adopt its decisions and declarations and to discuss the date and venue for the ninth Ordinary Session of the Assembly, before the meeting was closed.
This section summarizes some of the key statements and presentations from the meeting, as well as decisions and declarations agreed to by the Assembly that particularly relate to the Summit’s themes.
OFFICIAL OPENING: During the opening session on Monday, delegates listened to keynote speeches and agreed to the agenda (Assembly/AU/1 (VIII) Rev.1) and organization of work. Speakers included the AU Chair, the UN Secretary-General, the Director-General of the UN Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Prime Minister of Italy and the Secretary-General of the Arab League. Some of the statements are summarized below.
UN Secretary-General: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon paid homage to the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and expressed his resolve to continue the former Secretary-General’s commitment to Africa. Citing examples of Africa’s “unity of purpose,” he stressed that such unity of purpose guides collaboration between the UN and the AU on democracy, human rights, good governance, and peace and security issues.
On the MDGs, Secretary-General Ki-Moon noted progress made by some African countries and said in building on these advances, it would be important to ensure a true partnership for S&T and to empower women and girls through education and creative tools such as microfinance. He informed delegates of the upcoming convening of a working group on Africa and the MDGs, to be made up of key African stakeholders, international organizations and donors, to formulate an action plan to support practical initiatives for accelerating progress in achieving the MDGs in 2007 and 2008.
On challenges in meeting some of the MDGs, he referred to Goal Seven regarding ensuring environmental sustainability, highlighting that the impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on some of Africa’s poorest countries. He noted the need to implement the adaptation plan of action adopted at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2006, and through the Nairobi Framework launched there, to increase African participation in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). He also pledged to: make climate change, including climate change in Africa, one of his priorities as Secretary-General; work with donor governments to foster joint initiatives aimed at factoring climate change into the national development plans of several African countries; further engage the private sector by promoting market-based solutions; and to push for ambitious emission reduction commitments by industrialized countries and assistance to African countries experiencing extreme droughts and floods.
In closing, Secretary-General Ki-Moon said that how Africa fares in reaching the MDGs is a test of the ability of the UN to carry out the mandate its membership has given it and that it will be one of his priorities to ensure that it meets the test. He said unity of purpose provides no limit to what can be achieved and expressed hope that the partnership between the AU and the UN can be made even stronger, broader and deeper than it already is.
HSGIC President: The address by the Chair of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC), Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria, also served as the opening of the sixteenth Summit of NEPAD Heads of State and Government. President Obasanjo noted the achievements of NEPAD, including: the identification and assertion of what Africa wants; the disposition of a new resolve to effect home-grown solutions to address conflicts; the commitment to tenants of good governance as the prerequisite to economic development and social progress; and the entrenchment of macro-economic reforms. He also noted ongoing challenges, including the fact that while Africa has rejected poverty and embraced prosperity and good social order, it has not armed itself adequately with the transforming vision and principles of NEPAD to the extent that it could. He said this included the fact that national and regional plans have not been synchronized and aligned to approved NEPAD strategies and plans, resulting in reduced opportunities for coordinated policy review and synthesis of national priorities.
In living up to the NEPAD commitments, President Obasanjo said AU member states must: continue to critically look inwards for solutions; make necessary adjustments voluntarily; mobilize and engage their citizenry; reach out within Africa to share information and knowledge; assert the continent’s desires when dealing with partners; and convert challenges to opportunity so as to ensure that NEPAD meets Africa’s present and future needs regarding economic development and social progress.
On the integration of NEPAD and the AU, President Obasanjo said that the NEPAD process must be able to sidestep current intergovernmental constraints within the AU Commission, by retaining the expertise, freedom and flexibility of a development-oriented organ that can pre-empt or respond promptly to developmental imperatives. He also said the NEPAD process should continue to make room for Heads of State and Government to take hands-on leadership of the African developmental process as a committee of the AU Assembly, as this would enable them to serve as a vehicle for engaging external partners. To this end, he suggested, some adjustments to the NEPAD Steering Committee would need to be made.
Prime Minister of Italy: Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy, noted that his presence at the Summit indicated Italy’s commitment to giving Africa a voice and a central place on the world stage. He noted that while Africa is living through a period fraught with contradictions, there are signs of hope that must be seized upon and encouraged. Noting Africa’s political and economic revival, he said that his confidence in Africa is heightened by Africa’s self-confidence – in its political and economic growth and as a great continental institutional community. He noted that the most important event of the past few decades in terms of political revival has been the process of political and institutional integration spearheaded by the AU.
Prime Minister Prodi noted important areas for cooperation between the EU and the AU, including development, migration, science, international trade, innovation, energy and the environment, citing as examples the recent Euro-African Conference on Migration, research into low-cost vaccines and measures to allow for debt cancellation. He also outlined areas in which the AU and the EU must “step up the pace,” including matters of innovation, energy and the environment.
On peace and security issues in Africa, he appealed to member states to eschew unilateral decisions and to work, without rhetoric, for agreed solutions to ongoing crises on the continent. In expressing Italy’s commitment to assisting Africa to overcome its challenges, he noted three examples: Italy’s financial contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis; the upcoming opening of the African pole of the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, headquartered in Italy; and Italy’s commitment to organizing a Somalia Peace Conference as soon as conditions permit it. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of the value of defending life, as an inalienable right and expressed hope for continued cooperation with Africa on a moratorium on capital punishment.
SUMMIT THEME – SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH FOR DEVELOPMENT: After the official opening of the AU Assembly, delegates turned to presentations and discussion of the Summit’s themes. Some of the presentations are summarized below.
Professor Calestous Juma: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard University, presented on “The New Culture of Innovation: Africa in the Age of Technological Opportunities.” In opening, he cited Africa’s central challenge as how to foster a new culture of technological innovation in an age of epochal technological opportunities. Noting that most national S&T policies still focus on basic research approaches founded on the notion of “scarcity” of knowledge, he suggested that policy approaches based instead on the concept of available “technological opportunities” would lead to different strategies that emphasize technology prospecting and international partnerships, and that use existing knowledge as a starting point for solving problems.
Professor Juma stressed the need for a new economic vision for Africa, expressed at the highest level of government, which focuses on the role of knowledge as a basis for economic transformation. He said such a vision would entail placing policy emphasis on emerging opportunities, such as renewing infrastructure, building technical capabilities, stimulating business development and increasing participation in the global economy. Suggesting that such an approach must necessarily focus on learning and continuous improvement, Professor Juma then addressed the possibilities for developing such an opportunity-based outlook by discussing four key areas: economic growth as social learning; strength in diversity; renewing economic growth; and creating a new culture of innovation.
On economic growth as social learning, Professor Juma introduced the concept of “learning to grow” –the ability to learn how to improve performance in a variety of fields, such as institutional development, technological adaptation, trade, organization and the use of natural resources. He noted the importance of investing in basic infrastructure, nurturing small and medium-sized enterprises, and government support for higher education institutions, academies of engineering and technological sciences, professional engineering and technological associations, and industrial and trade associations. He also emphasized the need to identify technology opportunities to enhance Africa’s development, citing several areas of science, including the life sciences, engineering and materials science, and science related to the development of alternative energy sources.
Regarding the issue “of strength in diversity,” Professor Juma emphasized the importance of using international trade and technology cooperation as tools for enhancing regional stability. Citing countries such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa as examples, he suggested that Africa could benefit from bilateral and multilateral agreements and partnerships that promote the use of regional technological capabilities in international trade. He also emphasized that science and innovation are central elements of the continent’s integration agenda and so should be made more explicit.
On renewing economic growth, Professor Juma discussed the importance of and strategies for: strengthening infrastructure facilities; reforming higher technical education; spurring business entrepreneurship; fostering international trade; and joining the global knowledge ecology. On creating a new culture of innovation, he discussed the need to improve technology governance; identify strategic technology missions; and diversify funding sources. Among other recommendations, Juma suggested a presidents’ council on science, technology and innovation (STI) to champion the role of technological innovation in development, and the promotion of international technology cooperation and strategic alliances in the S&T field by ministries of foreign affairs.
Professor Juma concluded by noting that charting a new development path will require creative thinking and risk taking, and that a large part of the cautious approach inherent in international development projects results from rigidities in existing systems of accountability. He noted that all learning processes entail a large degree of experimentation and risk taking, such that it is important not only to assess the final impact of specific projects, but to create environments that promote trust through continuous feedback. He said development cooperation must be open, collaborative and guided by collective learning, and that conventional judgments about project “failure” and “success” must be replaced with a greater emphasis on lessons learned.
UNESCO Director-General: Koïchiro Matsura, Director-General of UNESCO, said one of the factors preventing Africa from mobilizing its rich resource is the lack of a framework for building and sharing scientific and technological capacity, and noted that NEPAD’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) seeks to address this need. He outlined how UNESCO is lending its support to the CPA, including by: working with many African countries to build good quality science policies, standards and monitoring arrangements; assisting governments in developing policy environments conducive to scientific innovation; and cooperating with other UN agencies, the AU Commission and the RECs to build a critical mass of science policy experts. He also noted UNESCO’s role in developing centers of scientific excellence through the establishment of an AU-NEPAD-UNESCO High-level Group to prepare a programme for creating and funding these centers.
UNESCO Director-General Matsura reaffirmed UNESCO’s readiness to cooperate closely with AMCOST and expressed support for the establishment of an African multi-year fund for implementing the CPA. He stressed the need to enhance domestic funding and to match such increases with increased international aid.
Noting that empowering African countries to become major players in S&T will require investment right across the education sector, he expressed UNESCO’s support for efforts to implement the Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education in Africa. He then discussed some of the specific R&D needs addressed in the CPA, including freshwater, biotechnology, bioethics, and indigenous knowledge and technologies. He concluded by applauding the decision to place S&T at the heart of the AU’s political agenda, and by expressing support for the remarks of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that the UN system must continue to make Africa a priority.
President of Rwanda: In opening, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, underscored the link between S&T and socioeconomic transformation, noting the particular importance of information and communication technologies that now link even the most remote rural villages to the rest of the world. He cautioned against allowing a discrepancy to develop between “intentions” and “concrete deeds,” emphasizing that statements of intent must be converted into action. Noting Africa’s low share of world scientists, scientific publications and patents, he highlighted key barriers, including: lack of support for R&D; brain drain; outdated curricula; impoverished S&T facilities; an absence of direct links between science and industry; and declining knowledge infrastructure.
While noting that the NEPAD Science and Technology Plan, together with resolutions from AMCOST meetings, provide the foundations upon which to launch S&T and research endeavors, he said hard issues remain, including: spending 1% of GDP on S&T and research, and how to spend such money efficiently to ensure the greatest impact.
President Kagame outlined that Rwanda has been attempting to incorporate S&T into the execution of its development vision, by implementing the resolution on 1% of GDP on S&T to support science and research institutions, including the teaching of science in schools, and sector-based centers of higher learning and research in agriculture, health, infrastructure, environment and biodiversity. He also noted the commencement of implementing a national policy on STI in 2005, one important goal of which is to increase the number of science students in tertiary institutions to 70% of the student population.
President Kagame also underscored the potential of regional centers and networks for S&T, noting that together, countries within a region can mobilize more resources and engage in more ambitious regional innovations to elevate S&T to a higher and more beneficial status. To this end, he emphasized the need to execute existing resolutions on regional knowledge centers and networks. He concluded by noting the ongoing challenge of creating an enabling environment in which S&T play their rightful role in transforming lives and urged the Assembly to marshal the necessary political will and courage to endow the continent with the vital knowledge required to make Africa a better place.
President of Tunisia: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia, noted that the choice of this Summit theme reflects a common determination to join the process of modernization and progress and to keep pace with modern scientific and technological developments.
In highlighting that Africa’s youth are the continent’s most important capital and the symbol of its aspirations for a better future, President Ben Ali stressed the need to: promote their capacities; prepare them to assimilate modern scientific and technological developments; and instill in them a sense of initiative to qualify them to assume their role in serving development. He emphasized the need to further cooperation with international institutions specialized in S&T and to benefit from cooperation in developing and upgrading systems of scientific research in African countries. He also underlined the importance of expanding cooperation and exchange of expertise between African regional bodies acting in the fields of education, scientific research and modern technologies and their counterparts in Arab countries.
President Ben Ali then outlined reforms introduced in Tunisia since 1987 to achieve development in all economic and social dimensions. He noted the special place of scientific research and technology in Tunisia’s development efforts, including the development of technological “poles” to achieve technological development and interaction between research and economic enterprise. He also outlined the conclusion of a cooperation agreement with the UN University for the establishment of a remote training center in Borj Cedria, Tunisia, to provide training to African scientists in the fields of water, the environment, biotechnology and energy.
In stressing the need for Africa to expand its platform of investment in scientific research, reinforce its human resources in infrastructure, and make regional use of its resources, President Ben Ali expressed support for the CPA, as well as the recommendations of the Extraordinary Conference of AMCOST, and called on the Assembly to adopt the recommendations and develop a plan for their implementation.
SUMMIT THEME - CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA: After discussion of the first theme concerning S&T for development, the delegates considered the second theme of “Climate Change in Africa.”
Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD): Hama Arba Diallo, UNCCD Executive Secretary, presented on combating desertification for mitigation of and adaptation to the negative effects of climate change in Africa. He then discussed how effective efforts to combat desertification could contribute to achieving fast and cost-effective results to climate change, noting that the “forefathers” of the UNCCD recognized that desertification is caused by climate change and human factors. He also noted, however, that the impact of desertification on climate change has not yet been fully demonstrated and that more authoritative scientific evidence is needed.
He underscored that climate and desertification interact at numerous levels through a complex series of feedback loops and noted that the existence of such linkages suggests that mitigation and adaptation strategies should be designed and coordinated to address both climate change and desertification. He explained that arid lands researchers suggest that carbon sequestration could have significantly fewer adverse consequences and greater benefits in dry agroecosystems and soils. He said, if properly managed, carbon sequestration in such soils may counter degradation and, by increasing water-holding capacity, nutrient provision capacity and resistance to erosion, may increase the productivity, resilience and sustainability of these agroecosystems, which would in turn increase food security and reduce poverty. He also suggested that such projects could provide social benefits by enhancing smallholder food security and rural livelihoods, which may promote better habitat conservation. As such, he suggested that the optimal adaptation strategy should be a shift in rationale to identify areas where local populations can derive social, economic and environmental benefits from sequestering carbon, while also contributing to desertification control and climate change mitigation.
In discussing the potential for sustainable land-use strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, particularly in Africa, Executive Secretary Diallo said that while he supported proposals in the Stern report for reducing deforestation, the report should have gone further in advocating for combating desertification by reclaiming degraded land, combating soil loss and restoring vegetation. He concluded by noting there is an urgent need to assess the impact of desertification on climate change patterns and that efforts should be made to involve African experts and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in such an assessment. He suggested a shift in current thinking as to how to curb greenhouse gases in that while clean air technologies may contribute to emissions reduction targets, sustainable agroforestry activities should complement such efforts.
ASSEMBLY OUTCOMES: The Assembly endorsed almost all decisions and declarations from the ninth and tenth Ordinary Sessions of the Executive Council, and adopted 31 decisions (Assembly/AU/Dec.134 – 164 (VIII)) and six declarations (Assembly/AU/Decl.1 – 6 (VIII)). It did not reach agreement on several issues, in particular: an Africa-wide strategy on biosafety; the institutional arrangements for an Africa-wide science fund, known as the African Science and Innovation Facility; and the creation of a Presidential Council on S&T.
Key decisions and declarations related to the Summit themes are summarized below.
Decision on the Report of the Extraordinary Conference of AMCOST: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.161 (VIII)), the Assembly agrees to:
IISD’s report of the Extraordinary Conference can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/africa/amcost/
Decision on Climate Change and Development: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.134 (VIII)), the Assembly:
Decision on the Summit on Food Security in Africa, Abuja, Nigeria: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.135 (VIII)), the Assembly, inter alia:
Decision on Avian Flu: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.136 (VIII)), the Assembly:
Decision on the Implementation of the Green Wall for the Sahara Initiative: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.137 (VIII)), the Assembly:
Decision on the Establishment of PAIPO: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.138 (VIII)), the Assembly:
Decision on Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation: Framework for the Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme for the AU: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.140 (VIII)), the Assembly, inter alia:
Decision on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.141 (VIII)), the Assembly, inter alia:
Decision on the Reports on the Implementation of the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa: In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.143 (VIII)), the Assembly, inter alia:
Decision on the First AU Conference of Ministers Responsible for Hydrocarbons (Oil and Gas): In the decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.148 (VIII)), the Assembly:
Declaration on Climate Change and Development in Africa: In the declaration (Assembly/AU/Decl.4 (VIII)), the Assembly commits to:
Addis Ababa Declaration on Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development: In the declaration (Assembly/AU/Decl.5 (VIII)), the Assembly commits to: