The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting was held in conjunction with seventh session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-7) and took place from 20-25 October 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting, organized by UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union (AU), was an opportunity to deliberate on the themes and objectives of Rio+20, agree on a consensus statement and adopt a draft resolution on Africa’s effective participation at Rio+20.
Over 250 delegates from member states, regional and subregional organizations, UN agencies, Major Groups and intergovernmental organizations attended the meeting. Delegates participated in the Expert Segment and CFSSD-7 from 20-22 October. The Ministerial Segment convened from 24-25 October 2011.
During the Expert Segment, delegates discussed progress in implementing the Food Security and Sustainable Development (FSSD) work plan for the biennium 2010/2011, heard progress reports on implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the development of strategic agricultural commodity value chains, and food security in Africa.
As part of the Africa regional preparatory process, delegates considered the Africa Regional Review Report for Rio+20 as well as the Africa reports on: New and emerging challenges; Green economy in the context of sustainable development; Institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development (IFSD); International Environmental Governance (IEG); and Means of Implementation. An open-ended drafting group was established to deliberate on the Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20, which met from Saturday, 21 October until Monday, 24 October. During the Ministerial Segment, delegates took part in policy dialogues on the themes of Rio+20, which contributed to the Consensus Statement.
Delegates engaged in lively discussions on the themes of Rio+20, with most participants agreeing on the need for strengthened IFSD. While there was some opposition to the idea of transforming the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a specialized agency, all participants agreed on the need to strengthen the organization.
Delegates supported the concept of green economy, with the caveat that it needs more definition. They agreed that transitioning to a green economy should not result in protectionism or trade conditionalities, there is a need for enabling environments, and sustainable land management should be a part of the green economy framework.
On means of implementation, delegates committed themselves to a number of objectives including ensuring improved environmental governance, transparency and accountability. They also called on the international community to meet existing commitments, such as the need to double aid to Africa.
Overall, there was strong agreement that a favorable outcome at Rio+20 for the African continent and ensuring that the relevant issues are addressed can only be achieved through speaking with “one” regional voice. As a result, delegates spent many hours deliberating over the consensus statement. There was some concern among delegates as to which organizations and initiatives form part of the sustainable development framework and what issues are hindering sustainable development progress. However, at the end of the day, the will to reach an agreement prevailed and ensured that the issues most pertinent to Africa were included in the consensus statement, which will be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCES
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) will mark the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference that specifically had the word “environment” in its title. The UNCSD seeks to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess progress and implementation gaps in meeting previously-agreed commitments, and address new and emerging challenges. The Conference will focus on the following themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the IFSD.
STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE: The UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 5-16 June 1972, and produced three major sets of decisions. The first decision was the Stockholm Declaration. The second was the Stockholm Action Plan, made up of 109 recommendations on international measures against environmental degradation for governments and international organizations. The third set of decisions was a group of five resolutions calling for: a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons; the creation of an international databank on environmental data; addressing actions linked to development and the environment; the creation of an environment fund; and establishing UNEP as the central node for global environmental cooperation and treaty making.
BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION: In 1983, the UN General Assembly decided to establish an independent commission to formulate a long-term agenda for action. Over the next three years, the World Commission on Environment and Development—more commonly known as the Brundtland Commission, named for its Chair, Gro Harlem Brundtland—held public hearings and studied the issues. Its report, Our Common Future, which was published in 1987, stressed the need for development strategies in all countries that recognized the limits of the ecosystem’s ability to regenerate itself and absorb waste products. The Commission emphasized the link between economic development and environmental issues, and identified poverty eradication as a necessary and fundamental requirement for environmentally sustainable development.
UN CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, was held from 3-14 June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and involved over 100 Heads of State and Government, representatives from 178 countries, and some 17,000 participants. The principal outputs of UNCED were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 (a 40-chapter programme of action) and the Statement of Forest Principles. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity were also opened for signature during the Earth Summit. Agenda 21 called for the creation of a Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), as a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, and examine progress in implementing Agenda 21 at the local, national, regional and international levels.
UNGASS-19: The 19th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the Overall Review and Appraisal of Agenda 21 (23-27 June 1997, New York) adopted the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (A/RES/S-19/2). It assessed progress since UNCED and examined implementation.
WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The WSSD met from 26 August - 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The goal of the WSSD, according to UNGA Resolution 55/199, was to hold a ten-year review of UNCED at the Summit level to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. The WSSD gathered over 21,000 participants from 191 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, academia and the scientific community. The WSSD negotiated and adopted two main documents: the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI); and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.
The JPOI is designed as a framework for action to implement the commitments originally agreed at UNCED and includes chapters on: poverty eradication; consumption and production; the natural resource base; health; small island developing states; Africa; other regional initiatives; means of implementation; and institutional framework. The Johannesburg Declaration outlines the path taken from UNCED to the WSSD, highlights challenges, expresses a commitment to sustainable development, underscores the importance of multilateralism and emphasizes the need for implementation.
64TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: On 24 December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 64/236 and agreed to convene the UNCSD in 2012 in Brazil. Resolution 64/236 also called for holding three Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings prior to the UNCSD. On 14 May 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang as Secretary-General for the Conference. The UN Secretary-General subsequently appointed Brice Lalonde (France) and Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados) as executive coordinators.
UNCSD PREPCOM I:The first session of the PrepCom for the UNCSD was held from 17-19 May 2010, at UN Headquarters in New York. The PrepCom took up both substantive and procedural matters. On the substantive side, delegates assessed progress to date and the remaining gaps in implementing outcomes of major summits on sustainable development. They also discussed new and emerging challenges, a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the IFSD. On the procedural side, participants met in contact groups to organize their work in the lead-up to 2012, and to consider the UNCSD’s rules of procedure.
FIRST INTERSESSIONAL MEETING FOR THE UNCSD: The first Intersessional Meeting for the UNCSD convened from 10-11 January 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York. During the meeting, delegates listened to a summary of the findings of the Synthesis Report on securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development, which: assesses progress to date and remaining gaps in implementing the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development; and addresses new and emerging challenges. Panel discussions were also held on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and on the IFSD.
UNCSD PREPCOM II:The second session of the PrepCom for the UNCSD took place from 7-8 March 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates discussed progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, addressed new and emerging challenges, discussed the scope of a green economy and the idea of a blue economy, and debated the IFSD. At the end of the meeting, a decision was adopted by consensus on the process for preparing the draft outcome document for the UNCSD.
UNCSD REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN:This event was held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile, from 7-9 September 2011. The main outcome of this meeting was a set of conclusions, which were negotiated by government representatives over the course of the meeting. Conclusions include: finding better ways to measure the wealth of countries that adequately reflect the three pillars of sustainable development; and a flexible and efficient global IFSD ensuring effective integration of the three pillars. The conclusions do not mention “green economy,” as government representatives could not agree on whether to refer to the concept. The conclusions will be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.
HIGH-LEVEL SYMPOSIUM ON THE UNCSD:This Symposium, which took place from 8-9 September 2011 in Beijing, China, aimed to facilitate in-depth discussions among all relevant stakeholders on both the objective and the two themes of Rio+20, in order to formulate concrete proposals as a contribution to preparations for the UNCSD. Participants emphasized five new and emerging issues for “priority attention”: energy access, security, and sustainability; food security and sustainable agriculture; water scarcity and sound water management; improved resilience and disaster preparedness; and land and soil degradation and sustainable land management. On the IFSD, participants highlighted that reforms should be guided by a set of principles, including: agreement on core problems to be addressed; form should follow function and substance; any reform should not only improve integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, but restore the balance among these pillars; enhancing transparency; and embracing complexity by simplifying administration, implementation and compliance arrangements.
UNCSD ARAB REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING:This meeting took place from 16-17 October 2011, in Cairo, Egypt. On the green economy, delegates highlighted the lack of a universal definition and agreed to identify the green economy as a tool for sustainable development rather than as a new principle that might replace sustainable development. Some participants raised concerns that the green economy concept might add constraints on the development or socio-economic requirements of their countries and the recommendations from this meeting spell conditions for the use of any future green economy concept.
Regarding the IFSD, many delegates brought their national experiences to the table, with some explaining, for example, that they have or are in the process of establishing national sustainable development councils. Some said they could not discuss the international options in detail until the proposals and their financial implications are fully fleshed out.
During the conference, participants highlighted the need for balance among the three pillars of sustainable development. The meeting also featured the very active engagement of Major Groups. The conclusions will be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.
UNCSD REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: This meeting took place from 19-20 October 2011, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. During the meeting, participants shared their views on the main themes of the UNCSD. On green economy, although many found merit in the idea, some participants expressed concern about the concept, noting that a green economy should not lead to protectionism or trade conditionalities. Others noted that a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not be successful due to countries’ unique circumstances.
Most participants noted that there is a need for strengthening the IFSD. While many favored “strengthening” UNEP, there was no consensus on whether this should be done through transforming UNEP into a specialized agency. Some participants also expressed interest and support for establishing a Council on Sustainable Development. Participants adopted the “Seoul Outcome,” which will be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.
REPORT OF THE MEETING
On Thursday morning, 20 October, Tlou Ramaru (South Africa) as Chair of Sixth Session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-6), opened the expert segment of the Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20). He said that food security remains a critical issue for African countries and remains high on the sustainable development agenda. Remarking that Rio+20 is a key moment for Africa to assess progress in sustainable development, he called on states to actively shape the sustainable development and green economy agenda, urging agreement on a concrete common African statement for Rio+20.
Jennifer Kargbo, Deputy Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), noted strong political will in Africa for achieving sustainable development, emphasizing a decision taken at the 17th African Union (AU) Summit (Assembly/AU/Dec.381(XVII)) to agree on a common African position for the UNCSD. She said African countries have achieved enhanced economic growth but that this hasn’t reduced unemployment significantly nor contributed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and recommended an integrated approach to sustainable development that harnesses the links between economic growth, development and environmental protection. She emphasized that Rio+20 is an important opportunity for African countries to communicate their needs for a framework for sustainable development, and to transform the global political agenda towards the needs of developing countries.
Mounkaila Goumandakoye, Director, United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Africa (UNEP ROA), noted that despite strategies and action plans for sustainable development agreed on at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, and subsequent conferences, the world is still grappling with significant challenges for sustainable development. He said enhanced investment is needed to achieve economic growth as well as social and environmental goals, and noted the availability of natural resources as a great opportunity for investment in Africa. On infrastructure, he suggested that current international environmental governance as part of the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) does not serve the needs of African countries and requires harmonization, and highlighted the support of African countries for making UNEP a specialized UN agency.
Abdirahman Beileh, African Development Bank (AfDB), said that in spite of the challenges Africa has faced in sustainable development, opportunities are available to overcome the lag in progress. He cited resource endowments, which offer opportunities to address the effects of climate change. He noted that inadequate resources and institutional arrangements have negatively impacted Africa’s progress in meeting its goals, adding that the bank has integrated sustainable development in all its programmes and projects, including transport, energy, market access and job creation.
Gelila Terrefe, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), remarked that UNDP supports developing countries in making a transition towards a more sustainable future. She reported that while the challenge for high-income countries is to increase human development with lower ecological footprints, low-income countries are challenged to retain their current low ecological footprints. She emphasized that sustainable development must be people-centric.
Abebe Haile Gabriel, African Union Commission (AUC), called for “frank and candid” assessments of Africa’s progress towards sustainable development in order to establish options to accelerate progress. He urged states to work on a common voice in the run up to Rio+20.
Presenting a keynote address, Henri Djombo, Minister of Sustainable Development, Forestry and the Environment, Republic of Congo, described green economy as an important factor for sustainable development, employment and diversifying economies. He said that to achieve this transformation, countries need an adequate institutional framework, highlighting that the current IFSD lacks clarity and effectiveness. He called for improved horizontal integration of institutions on the national, regional and international levels. He noted that Africa is capable of playing a crucial role in the Rio+20 process and called on delegates to: clarify the expectations of African countries for Rio+20; develop concrete proposals, including on green economy; consider partnerships and instruments for implementation and priorities for the IFSD; and identify obstacles for sustainable development.
Organizational Matters: On Thursday morning, delegates elected Minister Djombo, Republic of Congo, as Chair of the CFSSD-7, as well as Chair of the Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20. Somalia, Botswana and Benin were elected as first, second and third Vice-Chairs, respectively. Sudan was elected as rapporteur. The agenda (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/1) and Programme of Work (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/Inf.1) were adopted without amendment.
Introduction and objectives of the meeting: On Thursday morning, the ECA Secretariat said the key objectives of the meeting are to review the implementation of the 2010/2011 work programme for the ECA subprogramme on food security and sustainable development (FSSD) as well as deliberate on the objectives and themes of Rio+20 relating to Africa and to achieve a consensus statement for Africa. He noted the expected outcomes of the Expert Segment include guidelines on development issues, including the FSSD work programme for the biennium 2012/2013, recommendations on thematic areas, and input on key priority concerns to be reflected in the Ministerial Segment. He noted the Ministerial Segment will agree on the consensus statement for Africa and draft resolutions for Africa’s effective participation at Rio+20.
Review of the implementation of the 2010/2011 work programme of the ECA Subprogramme on FSSD: On Thursday afternoon, Josué Dione, Director, FSSD, ECA, reported on the implementation of the 2010/2011 programme of work for the ECA subprogramme on FSSD (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/5), noting work in the following areas: agriculture and food security through promoting regionally-coordinated value chains of strategic food; agro- industry and agribusiness by creating food and agricultural market information; food security policies through reviewing food security strategies and policies; land policy with the launch of the framework and guidelines for land policy development and implementation; and biofuels development by preparing a draft policy framework on opportunities and policy requirements.
He noted further efforts in: the water sector by developing a water information clearinghouse in South Sudan; capacity building in disaster risk assessment and management; climate change by organizing the African Development Forum; and the environment and other cross-cutting issues through monitoring progress on sustainable development.
Key Parliamentary reports: Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development: Highlights of the Fourth Issue of the Sustainable Development Report on Africa: On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat presented a report on the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/4). She noted that the report deals with two subjects: an integrated assessment of progress towards sustainable development in Africa, based on sustainable development indicators and consultations with member states; and a thematic review of sustainable development, highlighting forests, biodiversity, biotechnology, and mountain ecosystems.
She highlighted, inter alia, a decreasing percentage of the population living under the poverty line; strong but unsustainable gross domestic product (GDP) growth on the continent; stagnating opportunities for women outside the agricultural sector; unequal access to energy; and significant impacts and opportunities from climate change. She concluded that obstacles such as conflicts and insufficient investment persist, and recommended, among others: investment in human capacity, technology and infrastructure development; and mainstreaming sustainability into national development plans.
Food Security in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and Policy Options: On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat, introducing the report on Food Security in Africa (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/2), revisited the foundations, drivers and substance of food security policies on the continent. He emphasized that food security is a human right and is central to achieving economic development. He highlighted high and volatile fuel and food prices, which present a challenge to progress in meeting the MDGs on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. In order to improve food security, he said there was need to provide analytical tools and databases to enable analyses of present and anticipate future trends, adapt African producers to the impacts of climate change, ensure the application of biotechnology and the green economy concept to ensure production is more equitable, and reduce the reliance on food aid and food imports. He urged governments to develop policies that: target food safety and social protection; reduce food waste by controlling post-harvest losses and value addition; improve agricultural output through investing in agriculture; and provide markets and a conducive environment for public-private investments.
Development of strategic agricultural commodity value chains for food security and sustainable development in Africa: An Overview: On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat presented the report on the Development and Promotion of Regional Strategic Food and Agricultural Commodities Value Chains in Africa (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/3). He outlined the ECA/AU/UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiative whose vision is “food and agricultural commodities belts in optimum agro-ecological production zones,” that are also referred to as preferential investment zones. He said the objectives of this initiative are to address the fragmentation of the African food and agriculture economy, maximize the exploitation of regional markets, and encourage regional integration for the development of coordinated preferential investment zones and regional agribusiness joint ventures. He outlined the process and progress of the strategic creation and integration of production zones, noting collaboration with the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for a maize zone and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a rice and livestock zone. The process, he explained, involved various phases: field visits and baselines studies; validation symposium and Regional Economic Communities’ (RECs) ministerial meetings; a regional assessment study; development of a regulatory policy framework to hold a public-private partnership meeting, which will be taken to the ministerial level; and capacity building for the regulatory policy framework.
Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, Tunisia requested clarification on the role of subregional reports. Uganda emphasized water storage as crucial for water and food security and noted that food security is affected by trade infrastructure. Burkina Faso lamented lack of reference to the biodiversity negotiations and access and benefit-sharing in particular. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) asked for specifying how trade regimes contribute to poverty or its alleviation. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) noted challenges in coordination and creating synergies at the continental level, and emphasized investment in agriculture from both international programmes and countries’ domestic GDPs. The Arab Maghreb Union highlighted the need for scientific and technological progress for enhancing food security and urged sharing best practices. Senegal suggested considering the role of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for agriculture. The Gambia noted that climate change increases droughts and forest fires and is a crucial threat for food resources and security. Botswana highlighted the need to focus on the elements that link the economic, social and environmental pillars, and encouraged delegates to take advantage of the participation of finance and planning agencies in this meeting. Guinea addressed the processing of agricultural products and the contribution of microfinance programmes targeting women for food security. Ghana asked for positive examples of integrating sustainable development strategies in national planning processes. Morocco said desertification and migration are important challenges in the context of sustainable development. Malawi asked for more information on the studies addressing the costs of hunger.
Responding to the comments, the Secretariat said that the issues of infrastructure, water storage and water harvesting should be investigated to see what “value-added” the products and suppliers provide to these industries, noting that funding for these initiatives would need to be investigated. He said that PPPs to stimulate investment in the agricultural sector need to be explored, citing work already undertaken with the FAO to encourage private sector investment. He cautioned against rushing into biofuel production as this can cause land-use conflicts and suggested that future production should incorporate lessons learned from other producers.
On the progress of implementing the WSSD, the Secretariat noted that more work is necessary to strengthen the integration of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. She noted that the report presented is one of a set of reports and that trade issues are dealt with in a report yet to be presented. She stressed that the agreed protocols and commitments will be incorporated into the report. The Secretariat emphasized the need for technology transfer, particularly for water resource management and renewable energy technologies.
Special initiatives: Climate change and development in Africa: On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat presented on Climate Change and Development in Africa: Linking policy to practice. He noted links between climate change and development challenges and said it is not only the level but also the quality of economic growth that matters. He suggested starting from national development priorities and moving gradually to climate resilient and low carbon emitting pathways. Suggesting that adversity can become an opportunity, he urged focusing not only on the levels of climate finance but to ensure that the use of these financial resources has a positive effect at the local and national level. He also introduced a climate and development programme by ECA and the African Climate Policy Centre with activities on: knowledge generation and sharing; advocacy and consensus building; and advisory services and technical cooperation.
The Land Policy Initiative: On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat provided an overview of the Land Policy Initiative (LPI), which arose from the limited success of land reform on the continent. He noted that it is an “African-owned” process that builds consensus on key issues in land reform, lessons learned and best practices. He said that a framework guide on policies and lessons has been produced.
He noted the 2011 Nairobi Declaration that: endorses and calls for the use of the framework guide in land reform efforts; calls for equitable access to land and strengthens the rights of women; and invites the RECs to capture land-related issues in their common agricultural policies. He outlined challenges for the future, including enhancing the capacity of the LPI Secretariat.
Discussion: Uganda called for implementing solutions at the regional level. Burundi noted conflict between national agencies in charge of the environment and those in charge of agriculture, and emphasized the contribution to food security made by environmental agencies. Morocco stressed the importance of cooperation between African government bodies addressing issues related to climate change. Sierra Leone urged addressing food security, climate change and development from the perspective of the most affected and vulnerable. Senegal noted the need for a coherent policy toward climate change and for linking it to development objectives. The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) lamented that early warnings for hunger and drought in East Africa are not followed by early action due to unclear institutional responsibilities, and called on environment and agriculture ministries to take responsibility for addressing droughts instead of leaving the issue for crisis managers. Tanzania called for investing in rural infrastructure, suggesting that it will not only improve livelihoods but the functioning of markets as well, and addressed storage capacity and regional value chains as crucial for sustainable development.
Africa Regional Review Report for Rio+20: On Friday morning, Genevesi Ogiogio, Centre for Institutional Development, NEPAD Agency, introduced the Africa Regional Review Report for Rio+20 (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/9). He highlighted the progress and achievements made by African countries in the implementation of sustainable development commitments since UNCED, particularly Agenda 21, the 1997 Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (PFIA21), the JPOI, the WSSD, MDGs, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and the Accra Agenda for Action. He said that in addition to the three pillars of sustainable development recognized globally, a fourth pillar on governance and institutional sustainability is included for Africa.
He said between 1992-2002, more than 95% of African countries ratified at least one of the Rio Conventions and highlighted: streamlining of national policies and laws on environment; transforming the Organization of African Unity into AU for a more continental expression of economic, political and social integration; the establishment of NEPAD; and subregional progress in land policy reforms, forest management and water resources.
He showed Africa’s improved performance from 2002 to the present in governance and institutions through expansion of democratic space and means of political transition by elections, decreased personalized power and unaccountable governments. On social development, he cited slight declines in fertility, infant mortality, improved access to water and sanitation, and net primary school enrollment. He added that progress on the environmental pillar was evident through an increased number of environmental action plans and environmental impact assessments, the establishment of river basin organizations to manage transboundary natural resources, renewed commitment to the Dakar Declaration to ban leaded gasoline by the end of 2005 and the adoption of the state of environmental report.
He recommended that: programmes of NEPAD and the AU be strengthened, including through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); UNEP be transformed to guide the region on sustainable development; creation of an Africa sustainable development fund to support priority areas such as institutional reforms; investments in clean energy increase; and a mechanism to balance integration of all pillars including aspects of monitoring and evaluation.
Discussion: Tunisia reported on its national institutional framework and sustainable development committee, highlighting the social dimension and a participatory approach. Guinea asked for strategies to target the social development of the least privileged in the context of sustainable development. South Africa highlighted: the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as the most underfinanced of the Rio Conventions; Payments for Ecosystem Services; community-based resource programmes; and progress in harmonization of institutions for sustainable development in Africa, saying integrated planning across institutions is still required. Senegal raised concern that emphasis on the environmental pillar of sustainable development has led the international community to call development achievements into question. The Republic of Congo noted that sustainable development has not been adequately assessed in Central Africa and coherent policies are lacking. Representatives of universities said the benefits for Africa from sustainable development and green economy depend on how Rio+20 agreements will be implemented and coordinated and called for strengthening national councils for sustainable development.
Kenya asked for strategies to balance foreign investment flows between countries and enhance their contribution to sustainable development. With respect to the MDGs, Morocco, with Burkina Faso, asked for a synthesis of easily obtainable goals, existing achievements, and their linkages to emerging challenges to be elaborated on in the report. Chad urged for more emphasis in major discussions and studies for desertification and drought as crucial challenges for African countries. Egypt asked to clarify the recommendation on making UNEP a fully-fledged specialized agency. Botswana said the APRM should not be a basis for resource distribution due to a lack of consensus on the issue. Niger called for making recommendations for national strategies for sustainable development within the context of global developments. Togo noted the need for more inclusive economies and economic growth.
Africa Report on New and Emerging Challenges: On Friday afternoon, Ken John (AfDB) presented on new and emerging challenges facing the continent (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/11), noting that although some were ongoing challenges, their distinction as “new or emerging challenges” was based on their impacts and intensity from one region to another. He highlighted that most countries had not achieved the 2010 biodiversity target set by the Convention on Biological Diversity to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss at all levels, citing: agricultural expansion with concomitant forest degradation; water scarcity and lack of access to safe water; food crises exacerbated by high food prices; weak markets; climate change; tradeoffs between cash and food crops; continued dependence on charcoal and woodfuel; desertification, which continues due to slow progress for rural electrification; the global financial crisis causing declines in trade and capital flows and reduced tourism; and youth unemployment intensified by recent increases in youth populations without concurrent increases in labor markets.
He highlighted the opportunities and recommendations to combat these challenges, including through the green economy, shifting to commercial agriculture and improved farming systems, investments in renewable energies and undertaking urban and peri-urban electrification. He also noted the importance of investing in youth education, business skill training, access to microcredit, and technical and vocational training.
Africa Report on a Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication: On Friday afternoon, Dora Nteo (South Africa) presented the Africa Report on Green Economy (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/12). She defined green economy as one that increases human well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and as a vehicle for sustainable development. On pathways to a green economy, she highlighted wealth in natural capital assets, the possibility of choosing between different development strategies and “leapfrogging,” and efficient use of materials and energy inputs. She also highlighted enabling policies and institutions, including: political and regulatory frameworks to enhance investor confidence; sustainable public procurement; pricing instruments such as Feed-in-Tariffs; effective international cooperation as an enabling factor for technology transfer; linking production and consumption; and policy and sector development plans, citing wind development, ecosystem restoration, sustainable agriculture, protected areas, and the reform of fossil fuel subsidies.
Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, Benin urged for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be included and discussed in the reports. Uganda called for including issues of trafficking, urbanization and, with the Seychelles, for piracy to be considered. Sierra Leone lamented that the lack of inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable groups impedes sustainable development, while the Youth caucus emphasized the need for promoting youth volunteerism and mentorships from adults. Burundi noted that behavioral change needs to underpin efforts to convert to a green economy. Sudan called for more emphasis on funding issues and highlighted the importance of technology transfer. Mali noted that unemployment remains a challenge. Morocco called for greater emphasis on the link between green economy and poverty reduction in the report. South Africa noted that the Ten-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production should form a key building block of the green economy framework.
The Secretariat noted that the subregional reports were not available at the time the report was drafted, but that these will be considered in the finalized report. He noted that issues, such as piracy and GMOs, will be reflected in the final version.
Africa Report on Institutional and Strategic Frameworks for Sustainable Development: On Friday afternoon, Omar Alieu Touray, ECA Consultant, presented a study on institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development in Africa at the regional, subregional and national levels (E/ECA/CFSSD/7/10). At the regional level, he said NEPAD has integrated the three pillars of sustainable development in its development, social and environment programmes and has gained recognition both regionally and internationally. He noted that AU specialized technical committees, such as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW), have also made progress in building linkages with international institutions on environmental issues but lacked clear mandates and financial and human resources. He also cited the AfDB, which through its medium-term strategy has developed linkages to enhance delivery for sustainable development and poverty reduction but noted the need to increase funding, enhance capacity and promote multi-stakeholder involvement. In addition, he highlighted: the Regional Implementation Meeting for enhancing the review of progress in the implementation of Agenda 21, the PFIA21 and the JPOI commitments; the Sustainable Development Report for Africa in providing relevant analyses of priority sustainable development issues; and the Regional Coordination Mechanism for increasing the high-level participation of 30 UN agencies active on the continent and African regional and subregional organizations.
At the subregional level, he reported progress in multi-stakeholder participation, building institutional linkages and options for balancing the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development through programmes such as: the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation Regional Strategic Plan, the Community Development Programme of ECOWAS and Economic Community of Central African States Vision 2012.
He said National Councils for Sustainable Development cover a broad range of issues but are impeded by a lack of broad mandates, insufficient capacity, inadequate human and financial resources and limited best practice or successful pilot studies.
International Environmental Governance (IEG): On Friday afternoon, Malawi, on behalf of the Secretariat, building on decisions at the 17th session of the General Assembly of the AU held in July 2011 and supported by the 13th Session of the AMCEN held in June 2010, presented on the options for strengthening UNEP in the context of IEG. She discussed two options for strengthening, consolidating and transforming the organization. She said as a specialized agency, UNEP could be established through an agreement between a group of UN member states and could: adopt decisions within its mandate that are not subject to review; appoint its own head; enter into agreements with governments and intergovernmental organizations; request advisory opinions from the International Court of Justice; create subsidiary bodies and committees; and adopt and administer treaties, noting that this will allow a close link between environmental treaties and the agency. She said that as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), UNEP would be established by an UNGA resolution based on majority voting, be supervised by the UNGA and have the same membership. The new UNEP, she added, could: create subsidiary bodies and committees; enter into agreements with governments; adopt decisions; and make recommendations on issues under its mandate. She also pointed out differences in organizational structures, operational links and funding.
Discussion: Burkina Faso queried why organizations such as the World Bank and the International Organisation of la Francophonie are not included in the report and urged that the issue of adequate resources to operationalize institutions and councils be reflected. Ghana noted that a decision to transform ECOSOC may go against the UN Charter. With Morocco, he noted that all pillars of sustainable development should be addressed in the IFSD since sustainable development goes beyond the environment. Kenya called for elevating the environmental pillar of sustainable development to the same status as the economic and social pillars. Egypt called for establishing an open-ended working group to formulate a plan for addressing the IFSD and the suggestions for transforming UNEP. Sudan questioned what the work of UNEP as a specialized agency would be.
The Secretariat, recalling that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is conducting a study on the role of institutions that operate at the global level, noted that the regional report addresses the work of UN institutions at the regional level, saying that linkages between these institutions and those operating at the global level will be reflected in the document. She noted the need for an institutional arrangement at the global level that is comprehensive and deals with the three pillars of sustainable development.
UNISDR noted that the link between disaster risk management and sustainable development should be used as part of the background to the report. A non-governmental organization representative called for ensuring that green economy addresses the underlying structural deficiencies that limit the involvement of marginalized sectors in the economy. He noted that green economy must not exacerbate environmental issues, recognize the rights of indigenous people, ensure that there is access to traditional land and must be integrally involved in decision making. Ghana urged further consideration of the IFSD at the global level, citing that Agenda 21 deals directly with international cooperation and that addressing the gaps solely at the regional level could be problematic.
Means of Implementation: Bridging the gap: On Saturday morning, Kasirim Nwuke, ECA, presented on the major implementation gaps and persistent emerging challenges and constraints to bridging the gap. He highlighted the African commitments since UNCED, adding that the cumulative nature of these commitments needs to be addressed under means of implementation. On financing sustainable development, he noted that African countries have committed to increase domestic resources, debt relief, provide additional resources for climate change and increase official development assistance (ODA), but that constraints such as the global financial crisis and rising food and energy prices have been a challenge.
He showed that commitments to reduce reliance on aid and development effectiveness were reflected in the Paris Declaration and Accra Action Agenda, which called for harmonization, ownership of process, and use of existing country systems and mutual accountability. This commitment, he noted, had been challenged by poor integration of ODA in budgets, low quality of national development plans and fragmentation of monitoring and reporting systems.
On technology development and transfer, he emphasized commitments to promote the strategic role of science and technology, including information technology and innovation through enhancing appropriate incentives and enhancing access and transfer of patent-protected environmentally sound technologies. He highlighted the low investment in science, technology and innovation in the region.
On capacity development, he noted commitments to achieve United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Education for All movement, integration of sustainable development in school curricula, achieving the MDG on education, and setting up regional centers of excellence. So far, he reported, countries have signed onto the Education for All movement, increased aid and national budgets towards education, and integrated capacity building into national development programmes. The challenge, he added, remains with the low average school enrollment rates, low quality of education and the inability to retain teaching staff, and adequate financing.
He said that on globalization and trade, countries committed to ensure an equitable international trading regime, strengthen the link between trade and environment, implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, open trade markets and increase intra-African trade. He highlighted progress with reductions of trade tariffs, the existence of joint infrastructure projects and ongoing efforts to diversify national economies.
He also highlighted progress in promoting South-South cooperation with examples of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation, India-Africa Forum and Africa-South America initiatives, among others. He cautioned on the risk of increasing debt.
On the means of implementation to bridge the gap he suggested: accelerating economic growth, using tax codes to create incentives for sustainable development; enhancing mechanisms for debt reduction; furthering the World Trade Organization (WTO) especially on the temporary movement of workers; strengthening capacity for debt management; introduction of quality assurance in capacity-building institutions and projects; and strengthening the AU and the regional economic commissions.
Discussion: Guinea-Bissau pointed out differences between countries, highlighting the capabilities of banks for providing finance for sustainable development. Uganda called for reflecting the achievements of regional integration beyond the RECs, highlighting fisheries organizations and the East Africa Stock Exchange. COMESA said the report overemphasizes fragmentation of RECs and does not address integration and harmonization, highlighting common free trade areas, infrastructure programmes and funds, and climate change programmes. The International Organization for Migration emphasized the role of Diasporas for the mobilization of resources, and technology and skills transfer. Senegal asked for best practices and recommendations for effective use of the money available through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A representative of civil society organizations (CSOs) noted the need for a legal and policy framework for local philanthropy, and that South-South cooperation should take into account the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Tanzania suggested: directing ODA towards productive activities; a mechanism that helps transfer remittances to sustainable development; and a common African position on the Doha Round to make trade beneficial for sustainable development.
Chair Djombo emphasized that African countries have large amounts of natural resources but need to prioritize their use for sustainable development and should rely primarily on their own resources for sustainable development. Nwuke said the report recognizes the achievements of RECs in integration and harmonization, and that enhancing the effect of remittances for sustainable development requires addressing the problem of double taxation.
Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20: On Saturday morning, Chair Djombo asked delegates to comment on the draft Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20. Ghana, on behalf of ECOWAS, with many others, said more time was needed for considering the draft. Egypt added that substantial issues in the draft still need discussion. Morocco, supported by Tunisia, said the outcome must be a statement at the ministerial level that expresses a position and a vision, and called for shortening the current draft. Algeria urged focusing on: matters that are important for Africa; challenges that have not been achieved; and expectations regarding cooperation and commitments of developed countries. Botswana emphasized that a common position must be achieved before the second intersessional meeting for Rio+20 in December 2011 to feed into the zero draft of the outcome text for Rio+20. Namibia added that finding a common position at this meeting would help African countries to make a contribution to the Rio+20 process. Chair Djombo said the preparatory meetings held by the ECA, AMCEN and the 17th AU Summit give an idea of the common African position, and suggested redrafting the document with a maximum 10-page length. Following further interventions, delegates agreed to reconvene in subregional groups and then discuss the draft text in an open-ended drafting group, with two representatives from each group.
On Saturday afternoon, Chair Djombo asked the delegates to work on the edits of the draft consensus statement to Rio+20 in plenary in order to have a complete draft on Sunday afternoon. Egypt, with South Africa, Botswana and Senegal, called for a resumption of the open-ended drafting group, which should be allowed to continue in parallel with the ministerial meeting until a consensus statement is reached. Business and Industry asked for guidance on how the concerns of the Major Groups will be incorporated into the text.
Benin said the task of reducing text was substantial and asked that the drafting group resume work without further delay. Rwanda called for caution on cutting too much text, noting that this document would be an important basis for the endorsement of the consensus statement by the AU General Assembly at its next meeting, during the 18th AU Summit in January 2012. He added that it was important to ensure that the Ministers receive a document to consider in their discussions, noting that there would be opportunity to refine it later since it was a living document.
The ECA Secretariat said they would facilitate the drafting group until Tuesday night, adding that the adoption of the report of the meeting will be addressed at Sunday’s closing session of the Expert Segment. Chair Djombo urged states to consider completing the consensus statement for adoption at the same time.
On Monday morning, Josué Dioné, Director, FSSD, ECA, opened the Ministerial Segment of the Africa Regional Preparatory meeting for Rio+20. Welcoming delegates, he said the objective of the meeting is to convey a strong African voice to Rio+20 that can be endorsed at the 18th AU Assembly in January 2012.
Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary, ECA, said the call for sustainable development made at UNCED remains relevant, noting that the 17th AU Assembly identified the challenges of making the IFSD work for the continent and enable the transition to a green economy without imposing trade protectionism and development conditionalities (Assembly/AU/Dec.381(XVII)). He also noted the need to scale-up the means of implementation for sustainable development, citing finance, technical cooperation and capacity building.
Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP, welcomed the call by African leaders for strengthening UNEP and emphasized that it is not the transition of UNEP to a UN specialized agency that is at stake but to respond in a timely manner to the concerns of developing countries. She suggested that Africa can be a key player in setting the international agenda on sustainable development and said that Rio+20 cannot be about negotiating marginal issues but must address the fundamental challenges of the 21st century, and requires bold decisions.
Tegegnework Gettu, UNDP Regional Director for Africa, said the first principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, that human beings are at the center of sustainable development, is the focus of UNDP’s activities. He remarked that the African voice at Rio+20 must consider the eradication of poverty as a priority. He lauded African countries in their commitments to initiatives of the AU and NEPAD to implement sustainable development, saying that similar courage and political will is required in order to transition to a green economy.
Jean Ping, Chair, African Union Commission, emphasized the need for Africa to speak in a common voice on sustainable development. He highlighted poverty, access to water and biodiversity conservation as key issues to be addressed in the consensus statement. He recalled decisions concerning the revision of IFSD at the 17th session of the AU Assembly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, saying transforming UNEP into a specialized agency would effectively fulfill Africa’s need in this area.
Denis Sassou Nguesso, President, Republic of Congo, in his keynote speech, noted that the Republic of Congo has been entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating African involvement at Rio+20 at the political level. He said that Rio+20 should be seen as an opportunity for putting the world on the proper path for sustainable development, adding that the green economy is an opportunity to encourage Africa’s participation at Rio+20.
Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said the Rio+20 conference will set the pathway and framework for sustainable development. He said there is a “disturbing downward trend,” in pledging resources, noting that the international community makes the same pledges for resources to Africa at every meeting, but there is little or no delivery on these promises. He called for speaking with one voice to “fight for what is ours by right,” noting that success depends on collaborative efforts and solidarity.
Nikhil Seth, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, UN DESA, said the objectives and themes of Rio+20 offer a great opportunity to address African challenges. On green economy, he noted an emerging consensus from the Rio+20 preparatory meetings on what a green economy should not be, including: a top-down approach to development; a pretext for green protectionism or green development conditionalities; and the corporate control of nature. Highlighting the European Union’s green economy roadmap that entails goals, timelines and monitoring mechanisms, he noted the need to reflect on the green economy and sustainable development agenda, suggesting sustainable development goals linked to the MDGs and a toolkit of best practices. On IFSD, he said the “three magical words” for Rio+20 are integration, implementation and coherence. He suggested integrating efforts for sustainable development at the regional level with the work of regional development banks, and called for strengthening national councils for sustainable development.
Charles Thembani Ntwaagae (Botswana), Africa Representative on the Rio+20 PrepCom Bureau, said for Africa, Rio+20 is about assessing progress towards sustainable development and meeting challenges through an action-oriented plan and enhanced means of implementation. He also highlighted the importance of defining and delivering a common African position.
Ali Abou-Sabaa, AfDB, said that Africa must seek long-term solutions, such as capacity building, technology transfer and increased financial resources, to attain sustainable development. He emphasized that in order to adopt the green economy concept there is a need to strengthen national environmental policies, attain regional integration and acquire adequate financing, adding that the bank was setting up the green fund to receive climate change funds.
Isabel Christina de Azevedo Heyvaert, Brazilian Ambassador to Ethiopia, noted that the green economy provides an opportunity to evaluate the original model of sustainable development, adding that countries should apply it in the context of their own realities and needs. On discussions related to environmental governance, she said her country supports strengthening UNEP’s implementation capacity in developing countries without promoting changes in its institutional format.
Ministerial policy dialogue on the objective and themes of Rio+20: Progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments and New and emerging challenges: Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UNCCD, moderated the Ministerial policy dialogue on Progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments and New and emerging challenges. He emphasized that Africa cannot adapt to climate change, reduce poverty and ensure food security if it does not resolutely act against the degradation of land, and suggested combating desertification as one of the Rio+20 sustainable development objectives.
Rudolph Sandy Kuuzegh, Deputy Director, Ministry for Environment, Science and Technology, Ghana, reported on key issues and recommendations from the expert meeting on progress on sustainable development implementation in the African Region, including on the social pillar of sustainable development and institutional integration.
Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ghana, described challenges to sustainable development and highlighted: equity in international trade; better prices for export products that can provide funds for internal development; and ownership of raw materials, highlighting that Foreign Direct Investment has not benefited Africa, but rather has led to the exploitation of natural resources and degradation of the environment while endangering economic growth. She also called for raising internal funds for investment in science and technology, emphasizing that innovation policies are a precondition for sustainable development.
James Musoni, Minister of Local Government, Rwanda, said that governments should develop strategies to increase employment, ensure value addition for local products, increase the volume of exports to ensure balanced trade, and invest in sectors that are the most valuable for the economy. He remarked on the importance of preventing vulnerability in society, including ensuring that migration does not cause negative effects on local economies. He also said that youth should be encouraged into self-employment and enticed into green jobs.
Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Namibia, emphasized that jobless economic growth continues to cause vulnerability of the poor, adding that people were the most underutilized resource in Africa. Africa, he said, needs to build institutional capacity to enable the transition to a green economy and provide an enabling environment for development of green jobs, including value addition of natural resources.
Kebour Ghenna, Executive Director, Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ethiopia, noted unanimous agreement that there has been insufficient progress on sustainable development over the last 20 years. He said that businesses cannot continue to operate as usual, environmental issues are becoming economic issues, and business can lead the transition by creating cost-effective solutions for existing problems.
Lucy Mulenkei, Executive Director, Indigenous Information Network, Kenya, called for recognizing the work of CSOs with governments and other organizations and lamented that although the involvement of CSOs has improved, more still needs to be done. She highlighted recommendations from CSOs for Rio+20, including: developing inclusive and transparent guidelines and standards for CSO involvement; integration and functioning of all three pillars of sustainable development; and technology that is understood by many and that is not harmful to the environment must be made available.
Discussion: Tanzania said priorities for Africa are science and technology, improving infrastructure to enable trade, and using domestic financial resources for development. Sierra Leone called for addressing the cross-cutting issues that affect the social development of youth, women, and marginalized groups. Egypt highlighted coherence of national institutions. Guinea-Bissau called for cooperation among African countries. The Gambia underscored the importance of the UNCCD for sustainable land management, food security, and enhancing biodiversity, and suggested to address the issue of long-term financing at Rio+20.
Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and Institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development: The segment on Green economy and Institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development was moderated by Yoshiteru Uramoto, Deputy Director-General, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Charles Mutai, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kenya, gave a summary of key issues raised on the green economy and IEG during the expert segment. On green economy, he reported a need for solid principles to guide comprehension and acceptance and the need to have social equity in relation to vulnerable groups such as women, children and disabled persons. He remarked on the general agreement that present institutional structures do not address Africa’s needs for tackling sustainable development and reported on African support for strengthening and transforming UNEP into a specialized agency based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Uramoto said that Africa must build and diversify resource-based economies adding that industrialization must be boosted through access to sustainable energy. He highlighted UNIDO’s launch of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims at greening industry with the private sector playing a major role. He invited panelists to discuss how green economy can contribute to development in Africa, opportunities and concerns, the role of governments, civil society and the private sector, and institutional arrangements.
Nikhil Seth highlighted current proposals for institutional arrangements including the establishment of a Sustainable Development Council similar to the Human Rights Council and the strengthening and transformation of UNEP into a specialized agency. He noted that the latter had gained popularity among African states saying that it had to be based on the needs and demands of developing states.
Tiémoko Sangaré, Minister of Environment and Sanitation, Mali, noted that African governments have committed themselves to the transformation to a green economy and highlighted that this transformation should be based on national priorities and the MDGs. He said the most important steps towards a green economy have to be taken at the national level, highlighting the mobilization of domestic financial, material and human resources, and to prioritize inter-African cooperation. He also urged enhancing international cooperation with the understanding that “Africa needs the rest of the world but the rest of the world needs Africa as well,” suggesting that a common and realistic African position is crucial for positive outcome from Rio+20 for Africa.
Wycliffe Oparanya, Minister of State for Planning, Kenya, highlighted programmes in Kenya that contribute to the transition to a green economy, including ecosystem restoration, afforestation, tax incentives for solar and geothermal development, and investment in water harvesting, food security, renewable energies, and efficient irrigation. He also shared policy messages, including: encouraging collaboration at the local level and between nation states; attracting private sector investment for clean energy development; creating a road map for the adoption of low-carbon technologies; mainstreaming environment and climate change issues into planning and budgeting; strong environmental protection laws; and committees for environmental issues in national assemblies. He also called for controlling population growth.
Dotun Ajayi, Africa Business Roundtable, emphasized that action to achieve sustainable development needs to be taken at the national level, within national frameworks. He called for domestic resource mobilization and reform of local financial markets to ensure that green economy and IFSD issues are dealt with in a “clean manner.”
Marlene Laros, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) – Africa Secretariat, said that ICLEI was working at the level of local governments to popularize the green economy. She noted that local governments are key actors since numerous economic activities fall under their jurisdiction, adding that they have capacity to drive local innovation, inform private sector behavior and provide incentives. She noted that Africa requires a new paradigm for modern urbanism saying the western definition of a city is no longer relevant in relation to the green economy. She emphasized that planning and financing urban development is a priority in order to catalyze the green economy.
In the ensuing discussion, Nigeria highlighted the need for incorporation of monitoring and evaluation in the green economy to ensure that progress is evaluated and provides the way forward. She emphasized that Africa would stand a good chance at Rio+20 if they maintained one voice.
Means of Implementation: Bridging the implementation gap: Brice Lalonde, UNCSD Executive Coordinator, moderated this session. Patrick Mnisi, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development, Swaziland, highlighted recommendations from the expert session, including: mobilization of domestic resources; green technology transfer; regional integration and South-South cooperation; and economic diversion. Lalonde emphasized the importance of innovative financing and suggested a collaborative platform for all actors involved in financing sustainable development.
Ali Abou-Sabaa, AfDB, said new and emerging challenges require technological advances, organizational change and monitoring of progress. He identified infrastructure-funding deficits and recommended that African countries rely on domestic resources and improved business environments to gain higher levels of Foreign Direct Investment, suggesting priority for female entrepreneurship. He described the green economy as an opportunity and a paradigm shift for development planning, and highlighted hydropower and geothermal potential in African countries. He also suggested making donor assistance “green development proof” and supported an African window in the Green Climate Fund and the establishment of the Africa Green Fund.
Hlangusemphi Dlamini, Minister of Planning and Economy, Swaziland, said there was a need to identify means of assisting vulnerable states, noting that most of these receive inadequate funding due to misclassification of their state of economic development and negative media reporting. He emphasized that donor funding should be coordinated to prevent overfunding of certain priorities at the expense of others. He stressed the importance of vocational training to ensure youth employment, saying that investors should consider capacity building and equitable involvement of local communities.
Stanford Mwakasonda, Engen Petroleum Ltd., South Africa, emphasized the need for the private sector to be involved in negotiations from the beginning. Lamenting the number of Clean Development Mechanism projects in Africa, he said that the private sector was brought on board too late to ensure their efficient implementation. He highlighted that unethical governance would create unethical businesses, saying that governments need to ensure stakeholder involvement before signing contracts on mining, infrastructure and agriculture. He called for lessons on country successes to be replicated regionally.
Edith Madela-Mntla, Director, International Council for Science Regional Office for Africa, noted that some good practices for implementing programmes to meet sustainable development targets exist, but that these need to be replicated and sped up to bridge the gap. She called for more targeted and harmonized capacity-building initiatives to build core skills for sustainable development, as well as guidance from the RECs to provide guidance to the science and technology community. She stressed the importance of mainstreaming indigenous knowledge systems for bridging the implementation gap.
Discussion: Algeria called for increased collaboration among sectors and encouraged technological advancement. She urged economic reform for transitioning to a green economy. Sudan called for the green economy to be placed in a sustainable development framework. A representative for CSOs called for a concrete definition of green economy and suggested that tools for sustainable development and green economy be identified. The Republic of Congo noted that a strategy plan with clear and precise goals for ensuring the inclusion and implementation of the social pillar is needed. Zimbabwe suggested that any approaches taken for bridging the gap should ensure decent work and include marginalized societies, including the disabled. Morocco called for a sustainable transition to the green economy that consolidates insecure jobs and ensures adequate training. Mauritania highlighted that gaps in implementation can be due to the internal problems of specific countries. Ghana called for including waste management in discussions on the green economy, since industries such as recycling may create a number of jobs and opportunities for youth. Guinea-Bissau urged continental structures that can coordinate with member states for the preservation of the environment and sustainable development.
the Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20: Chair Djombo invited the Ministers to consider the Draft Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20, highlighting that it will be submitted for adoption by African Heads of State at the 18th AU Summit. Sudan gave an overview of the proceedings of the Expert Segment and the work of the drafting group. The ECA Secretariat then read the statement and delegates proposed and approved amendments section-by-section.
On the topic of overall African regional performance, Ethiopia suggested highlighting the use of research and development for attaining sustainable development. On New and emerging challenges, delegates agreed referencing: calling on Annex I countries to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to agree on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol; African countries already taking concrete steps to address climate change; and, following a request from Sudan, the special challenges and needs for countries emerging from conflict and the support required from the international community to address these challenges. Swaziland suggested highlighting the role of desertification as a new and emerging challenge.
On green economy, delegates agreed to: highlight the reduction of inequalities, not only poverty; to include environmental imperatives underpinning the promotion of a green economy; and to encourage other major stakeholder groups, in addition to the private sector, to play their role in the sustainable development context. Delegates adopted this segment with minor amendments.
On Institutional and Strategic Frameworks for Sustainable Development, Mali said that the statement “we confirm that institutional reforms have been undertaken and sustainable development strategies developed and implemented at all levels” should reflect that reforms have begun and are in progress, rather than complete. Ghana said that the common challenge in balancing the pillars be reworded to refer to “sectors” rather than “pillars” since the text was in reference to the economy and not all pillars.
The Gambia, regarding indicators of assessing economic, social and environmental performances, suggested insertion of the text, “We also devise a rule where the true environmental costs of production and consumption are internalized into accounting models in order to address the costs rather than the symptoms of environmental loss.” Egypt suggested, and the Gambia agreed, to withdraw this due to the global difficulty of such assessments.
Kenya said that the statement “a need to establishing a global entity to coordinate and advance sustainable development agenda” is weak, suggesting that “in addition to reforming global coordination” better reflects the consensus of African states on institutional reform. He added that the call for Rio+20 should be to “endorse” rather than “reflect on” the decision of the AU Assembly that the current institutional structures did not fulfill Africa’s needs.
South Africa said that rather than note that the concept of sustainability is unclear to some countries and stakeholders, it would be best to state that there is a need to encourage dialogue by stakeholders in order to promote and popularize the concept of sustainable development in all countries. Chad said that the impact of sea level rise is detrimental to both coastal and inland fisheries and asked to remove specific mention of coastal communities.
On Means of Implementation, Guinea called for referencing regional, subregional and national organizations that have been strengthened for sustainable development implementation. The Gambia proposed calling for countries to fulfill the Copenhagen Accord for additional fast-track financing. Algeria said that the Cancun Agreements need to be referenced then as well. Burkina Faso noted that financing must be new and additional. The Gambia requested no specific methods for improving domestic resource mobilization be stipulated.
On the vote of thanks, Sudan said that Botswana and Egypt who represent Africa on the UNCSD PrepCom Bureau should be included. Lesotho, with Ghana, asked for the deletion of the vote of thanks saying the statement would be considered for negotiation at Rio+20 and thus did not require a vote of thanks. Delegates agreed.
On updating the Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20, Senegal asked for including text noting that amendments to the Consensus Statement text be provided before adoption by Heads of State at the 18th AU Summit, to be held in January 2012. Guinea opposed, fearing the inclusion of personal statements that would change the consensus. Nigeria recommended revising the text to make it more concise, in order for it to be more understandable for the Heads of State and called for establishing a committee of experts to undertake this task and formulate a work plan. The ECA Secretariat intervened saying that they were mandated to clean up the text and would ensure that no changes are made to the meaning or content of the statement.
Delegates adopted the consensus statement with minor amendments.
Africa’s participation at Rio: Olushola Olayide, AU, presented the proposal on The Way Forward to Rio+20, and delegates adopted it after deleting a paragraph on eventual adjustments to the Consensus Statement.
Egypt said his country does not support transforming UNEP into a specialized agency at this time, and asked for this to be reflected in the meeting report. The other delegates rejected this and Chair Emilienne Raoul, Minister of Health, Social Affairs and the Family, Republic of Congo, who took over from Chair Djombo due to his urgent departure, emphasized that delegates have agreed on a consensus statement and decided to speak with one voice. Egypt emphasized that his country supports the Consensus Statement, but that they wanted to clarify their national position.
Jennifer Kargbo, Deputy Executive Secretary, ECA, welcomed the adoption of the Consensus Statement and lauded the meeting for raising the profile of the social pillar of sustainable development, as it is the weakest pillar of sustainable development. She called for a bottom-up approach and an inclusive process to achieve sustainable development. Olayide commended delegates for the successful meeting and the adoption of the Consensus Statement, and the Chair closed the meeting at 7:37 pm.
THE AFRICA CONSENSUS STATEMENT TO RIO+20
The Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20, including the preamble, addresses Africa’s overall performance in pursuing its sustainable development goals, new and emerging challenges to be addressed, the green economy, the institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development, means of implementation and broad-based participation in achieving sustainable development.
In the preamble, the Ministers:
- note that the concerns of stakeholders across the region were taken into account;
- commend the objectives of Rio+20;
- reaffirm their commitment to NEPAD;
- urge the international community to accelerate and increase its support for Africa;
- call on Rio+20 to reinvigorate the political will and international commitment to the goals and ideas of sustainable development; and
- call on Rio+20 to adopt concrete measures, supported by adequate means, to accelerate implementation of sustainable development commitments.
On the overall Africa regional performance, the Ministers, note progress thus far, and the need to consolidate progress already made. They call for enhanced commitments to advance action in critical areas including in agricultural productivity and food security, combating desertification and land degradation, and sustainable natural resource use.
On new and emerging challenges, the Ministers, expressing concern that progress in sustainable development is being compromised by these challenges and recognizing that some new and emerging challenges also provide opportunities, call for
- “Annex I parties of the Kyoto Protocol” to agree to a second commitment period from 2013-2017;
- “Annex I” parties to provide “Non-Annex I” parties with appropriate additional and long-term financing, technology and capacity-building support;
- sustainable land-use in agriculture, food security, energy and forestry to be a cornerstone in a green economy;
- enhancing implementation of the UNCCD, supported by a strong and effective science-policy interface and improved financing framework for implementation;
- promoting planned human settlements and catalyzing green-based urban growth;
- adequate solutions to be found at the national and international levels to allow for the dignity of migrants to be protected; and
- addressing the needs and challenges faced by countries emerging from conflict, and providing technical assistance, financial support and infrastructure development for these countries.
On the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, African Ministers:
- acknowledge the need to define green economy as a tool to achieve sustainable development, and to assess the opportunities and challenges related to the concept;
- call for reorienting development models for efficient, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, including through resource efficiency;
- recognize the role of the green economy for achieving economic growth, employment creation and poverty reduction;
- appeal for assistance in the transition to and promotion of a green economy through inter alia: putting in place an international investment strategy; sustainable management of land; an enabling environment including policies and institutional frameworks; and involvement of the private sector;
- call for removal of all obstacles to the full implementation of sustainable industrial growth that limits the environmental, social and economic costs of industrialization;
- urge the international community to support African states in sectors such as sustainable management of forests through implementation of mechanisms of the UNFCCC;
- urge that the green economy neither be used as a trade barrier nor impose conditionalities on developing countries nor as a pretext for developed countries to not fulfill their pledges and commitments;
- note that the transition should be accompanied by means of implementation including new and additional financial, technological and technical assistance to developing countries and Africa in particular;
- call for agreement on Global 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production to promote sustainable development at Rio+20; and
- welcome an exchange of experiences and best practices in innovative policies and practices on sustainable farming, renewable energy development, and ecosystem-based adaptation, among others.
The Ministers emphasize that IFSD should promote the achievement of internationally agreed sustainable development goals, including the MDGs, and call for, inter alia:
- Rio+20 to note that all IFSD should take into account the specific needs of Africa for addressing implementation gaps, capacity building, technology transfer and linking the science-policy interface for environmental sustainability;
- enhancing implementation of sustainable development through subregional initiatives;
- countries to consider establishing, reviving and further strengthening national sustainable development strategies and councils;
- Rio+20 to explore reactivating and reinvigorating the national councils for sustainable development to coordinate, consolidate and ensure the mainstreaming of cross-cutting issues;
- Rio+20 to support the involvement of all ministries and other stakeholders to enable them to exercise their full responsibilities in sustainable development;
- a global mechanism for revitalizing institutions at the global, regional and national levels for sustainable management of coastal, marine, and lacustrine resources;
- a clear and actionable indicator framework for sustainable development at the national level;
- policies whereby the true environmental costs of production and consumption are internalized into accounting models; and
- considering the need to strengthen, consolidate and transform UNEP into an “international specialized institution” for the environment based in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Ministers also call for an “international specialized institution” to:
- have a strong mandate and the political visibility to fulfill the key functions of an effective IEG system as set out in the Nairobi-Helsinki outcome;
- have universal membership;
- have secure, stable, additional and predictable financing;
- have increased authority to bring coordination and coherence to the range of multilateral environmental agreements;
- have a strengthened regional presence, and improved implementation at the national level through the development of operational capacity;
- have the authority to lead a process of UN system-wide strategic planning for the environment;
- promote the science-policy interface; and
- enhance capacity and technology support.
On means of implementation, the Ministers recognize that African countries are responsible for driving their own sustainable development agenda and urge that Rio+20 must have at its heart the Means of Implementation and called for a package of international commitments, including:
- developed countries to allocate 0.7 % of their GDP to developing countries in the framework of ODA, and a target of 0.15% to 0.20% of gross national income for least developed countries;
- commitment to doubling aid to Africa by 2010 as articulated at the Group of Eight Summit, held at Gleneagles in July 2005;
- adopting an effective, equitable, durable and development-oriented solution to the debt problem of developing countries;
- developing a development-oriented, universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system, and to reinvigorate the multilateral trade negotiations for achieving a development-oriented outcome of the Doha Round of trade negotiations; and
- facilitating the accession of developing countries to the WTO.
The Ministers further urge the international community and other donors to make available to Africa new and additional financial resources for implementing the Rio+20 outcomes. Additionally, they commit themselves to enhancing efforts related to improving environmental governance at the national level, improving domestic resource mobilization for sustainable development, and enhancing regional integration.
They call upon the international community and development partners to:
- fulfill the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements for additional fast start financing and the long-term financing effective 2013;
- make more use of countries’ own systems to strengthen their national institutional structures; and
- support economic diversification in Africa.
- to develop comprehensive national capacity-development strategies;
- for a programme of support to help African countries assess the costs and benefits of a transition to a green economy and formulate and implement relevant policies that address the needs and priorities of Africa; and
- for regional integration to promote economic diversification, efficient allocation of resources, and addressing trans-boundary issues and challenges.
On broad-based participation, the Ministers acknowledge that sustainable development requires all stakeholders to participate in a meaningful manner, and called for the participation of all stakeholders in national, regional and international fora.
For additional meetings leading up to the Rio+20 conference, go to the UNCSD homepage http://www.uncsd2012.org/ or IISD’s Sustainable Development Policy and Practice knowledgebase http://uncsd.iisd.org/
Second Expert Meeting on Trade Implications of the Green Economy: The second Expert Meeting on Trade Implications of the Green Economy will be convened by UNCTAD. It will continue exploring ways a green economy, through trade-led growth, could become a pro-development income-generating instrument that will directly contribute to meeting the sustainable development imperative. The outcomes will serve as an input to the Rio+20 preparatory process. dates: 8-10 November 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: Lucas Assunção fax: +41-22-917-0247 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.unctad.org/
Bonn 2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Solutions for the Green Economy: Organized by the German Government, this conference pursues two objectives: to develop cross-sector solutions for achieving water, energy and food security; and to position the interface of water, energy and food security within the discourse of the Rio+20 process and green economy. dates: 16-18 November 2011 location: Bonn, Germany contact: Imke Thiem, Secretariat phone: +49-6196-79-1547 email: email@example.com www: http://www.water-energy-food.org/
High-level Expert Meeting on the Sustainable Use of Oceans: This meeting, to be hosted by Monaco, will take place in November. Results of Monaco Workshop will feed directly into the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference. dates: 28-30 November 2011 location: Monaco contact: Stakeholder Forum email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.bemonaco2011.org/
UNCSD Regional Preparatory Meeting for the ECE Region: This meeting will be convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the UNCSD Secretariat. dates: 1-2 December 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: Monika Linn, ECE phone: +41-22-917-13-15 fax: +41-22-917-0107 email: email@example.com www: http://www.unece.org/env/SustainableDevelopment/RPM2011/RPM2011.html
Eye on Earth Summit: The Eye on Earth Summit: Pursuing a Vision is being organized under the theme “Dynamic system to keep the world environmental situation under review.” This event will launch the global environmental information network (EIN) strengthening initiative and address major policy and technical issues. dates: 12-15 December 2011 location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates contact: Marije Heurter, Eye on Earth Event Coordinator tel: +971 2 693 4516 email: Marije.firstname.lastname@example.org or Eoecommunity@ead.ae www: http://www.eyeonearthsummit.org/
Second Intersessional Meeting for UNCSD: The second intersessional meeting for the UNCSD will be convened in late 2011. dates: 15-16 December 2011 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UNCSD Secretariat email:email@example.com www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/
UNCSD Informal Consultations: The UNCSD Preparatory Committee will hold a series of information consultations on the zero draft of the outcome document in January, February, March and April 2012. dates: 16-18 January 2012; 13-17 February 2012; 19-23 March 2012 and 30 April - 4 May 2012 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UNCSD Secretariat email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/
18th African Union (AU) Summit: The 18th AU Summit, convened under the theme “Boosting Intra-African Trade,” will be comprised of the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representative Committee, the 20th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council and the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments. dates: 23-30 January 2012 location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia contact: Esther Azaa Tankou, AU phone: +251-11-551-700 fax: +251-11-551-1299 email:email@example.com www: http://www.au.int
12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum: The Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will hold its 12th special session to focus on the UNCSD themes of green economy and international environmental governance and emerging issues. dates: 20-22 February 2012 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: Jamil Ahmad, UNEP phone: +254-20-762-3411 fax: +254-20 762-3929 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.unep.org/resources/gov/
Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge toward Solutions: This conference will focus on solutions to the global sustainability challenge. The conference will discuss solutions to move societies on to a sustainable pathway and provide scientific leadership towards the UNCSD. dates: 26-29 March 2012 location: London, United Kingdom contact: Jenny Wang phone: +86-10-8520-8796 email:Jen.email@example.com www: http://www.planetunderpressure2012.net
Third Intersessional Meeting for UNCSD: The final intersessional meeting for the UNCSD will be convened in March 2012. dates: 26-27 March 2012 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UNCSD Secretariat email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/
Third PrepCom for UNCSD: The third meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UNCSD will take place in Brazil just prior to the conference. dates: 28-30 May 2012 location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil contact: UNCSD Secretariat email: email@example.com www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/
UN Conference on Sustainable Development: The UNCSD will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. dates: 4-6 June 2012 location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil contact: UNCSD Secretariat email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/