Building a united African front ahead of UN COP27

Mahmoud Bakr , Tuesday 20 Sep 2022

Maximum African participation at the UN COP27 Climate Change Conference was encouraged during the 18th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Dakar.

Yasmine Fouad
Yasmine Fouad

 

Egypt’s initiatives on agriculture, energy, sustainable cities, and food and water security to adapt to climate change were reviewed at the 18th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Dakar, Senegal, on 15-16 September.

Other Egyptian presidential initiatives aimed at restoring the balance between mitigation and adaptation efforts in response to climate change were highlighted during Egyptian Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad’s speech at the conference.  

Egypt is gearing up to host the UN COP27 Climate Change Conference in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh in November.

At the Dakar conference, Senegalese Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Abdou Karim Sall said Africa wanted to see a programme on mitigation and adaptation efforts in response to climate change, to advance talks on financing projects towards this end, and the development of the capacity to implement environmental projects.

The Gabonese minister of environment stressed at the conference that it was important that the largest possible number of African ministers be present at the COP27, while ministers from Tunisia and Botswana suggested presenting successful experiences and innovative solutions at Sharm El-Sheikh.

Fouad, also the ministerial coordinator and envoy for the COP27, reviewed an initiative on waste management that aims to see 50 per cent of African waste recycled by 2050 in order to reduce the production of methane gas.

At present, only 10 per cent of Africa’s waste is being recycled. It was imperative to design institutional schemes to allow the private sector in Africa to be part of waste-management systems, Fouad said.

She also referred to an initiative to support women’s adaptation to climate change and to increase their knowledge of food habits that increase harmful emissions, which will ultimately reflect on the health of Africa’s future generations.

She talked about biodiversity and the preservation of marine life, topics which are of interest to Africa to protect its natural resources. These subjects will be discussed at both the COP27 and the UN Biodiversity Conference, slated to be held in Canada in December.

About 20 per cent of Africa’s population in more than 10 countries are at risk of being affected by climate change, Fouad noted, adding that between 2010 and 2022 some 172.3 million Africans were affected by drought, while 43 million were affected by floods.  

The African countries are the most at risk in the world due to food insecurity and water scarcity, Fouad stated. It is expected climate change will drive 78 million additional people to the brink of famine by 2050, more than half of whom inhabit Africa south of the Sahara, she said.

Fouad added that six of the 13 initiatives of the COP27 presidency focus on Africa, while the objectives of two more also concern Africa. She noted that there are 598 million Africans who do not have access to energy and 930 million who do not have access to clean cooking fuel.

Egypt’s initiative to ensure the fair distribution of affordable energy aims to unify African efforts to accelerate the energy transition and for this to become a reference point for the African countries and development partners, she added.

Fouad and Sall met on the sidelines of the AMCEN Conference to ensure major African representation at the COP27. Fouad said she was hopeful there would be high-level Senegalese representation at the conference, which aims to turn pledges into action.

In order for this to happen, it will be necessary to see the largest possible participation by African political leaders to speak on behalf of their peoples, she said. She added that she hopes more Africans will join the preparatory meetings ahead of the COP27 in October where the issues to be negotiated at the COP27 will be determined.

Fouad also discussed with Tunisian counterpart Leila Chikhaoui the outline and timeline of the environmental programme of the Egyptian-Tunisian Higher Committee that will be signed before the COP27.

They also reviewed the Egyptian-Tunisian programme to cooperate on hazardous and solid waste, integrated coastal management, the preservation of the marine environment, the promotion of sustainable production and consumption, the green and revolving economy, integrated air-quality management and pollution monitoring, natural reserves, biodiversity, ecotourism, and environmental legislation.

Chikhaoui said Tunisia had updated its plans to combat climate change, explaining that her country would send 45 participants to the COP27, including 10 officials. Tunisia will also focus on the participation of youth and women at the conference and will encourage the private sector and financial institutions to implement climate policies on the regional and international levels.

During her meeting with Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Fouad discussed including mechanisms to combat desertification in the activities of the COP27 as part of efforts to establish links between the agreements on climate, biodiversity, and desertification, something which Egypt has been calling for since 2018.

Thiaw said it was critical to push for mitigation efforts in Africa with the same momentum as adaptation, especially since sustainable energy would likely become more and more important across the continent in the light of population growth and the lack of the equitable access to energy.


   *A version of this article appears in print in the 22 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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