Sunday,23 July, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1349, (15 - 21 June 2017)
Sunday,23 July, 2017
Issue 1349, (15 - 21 June 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Gabon chairs AMCEN

Egypt hands over leadership of African Ministerial Conference on Environment to Gabon, Mahmoud Bakr reports

Fahmi interviewed by Al-Ahram Weekly
Fahmi interviewed by Al-Ahram Weekly
Al-Ahram Weekly

Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmi, chairman of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) for the last two years, left for Gabon to hand over the chair of the committee. Before his departure Fahmi spoke with Al-Ahram Weekly about environmental issues in Egypt and Africa.

Fahmi will submit a report to Gabon covering the key initiatives undertaken during Egypt’s leadership of AMCEN and recommendations for what needs to be done in the future. A cooperation protocol is expected to be signed with Gabon on AMCEN and other environmental issues. Fahmi will also discuss the impact on Africa of the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. He will be involved since the Obama administration’s initial signing was valid for four years.

The next AMCEN meeting will be held in mid-April 2018, said Fahmi, and preparations are underway for the conference which will be attended by many African delegations. Inter-African cooperation on environmental issues is likely to top the agenda.

According to Fahmi, Egypt’s chairmanship of AMCEN for two consecutive years — Egypt assumed the chair, succeeding Tanzania at the 15th round in March 2015 — is symbolic of Egypt’s return to full engagement in Africa. It paved the way for participation in the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — the Climate Change Conference in Paris — which resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement being issued. In the course of the negotiations Egypt played a significant role as leader of the African group.

During its tenure as chairman of AMCEN Egypt accomplished many goals, including enhanced coordination with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the African Union (AU) on implementing the recommendations of the 15th round, and represented African ministers during discussions on environmental issues with international organisations. Egypt coordinated the position of African countries on biodiversity and illegal trade in animals, working with the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), UNEP and the African Union to implement the UNDP’s programme and support the Regional Programme for New and Renewable Energy.

In the last two years, says Fahmi, Egypt has encouraged greater environmental consciousness in African countries, and hammered out a consensus among African states on pressing issues, most notably the climate summit. The Ministry of Environment also sponsored training courses for African members and hosted consultative meetings on environmental issues.

AMCEN plays a key role in promoting sustainable development and environment issues, promoting African interests in the global dialogue on the environment. The first AMCEN meeting was held in Cairo in 1985.

According to Fahmi, Egypt’s successful bid to host the 2018 Conference of the Parties on Biodiversity is testimony to the energetic role Cairo is now playing in environmental issues. “We are also seeking to host the Climate Change Conference — the biggest global event in the field,” he says.

“The French presidency thanked Egypt for its role in preparing for the 2015 Paris conference and Guinea’s president also thanked Egypt for its work preparing and implementing the African Renewable Energy Initiative.”

Hosting the biodiversity conference next year will require concerted efforts between the government, NGOs and civil society, says Fahmi, with the Ministry of Environment taking the lead in organising the conference. An Egyptian company specialising in international events has been hired to organise the conference.

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