16th Session of AMCEN – 15 June 2017
African Ministerial Conference on Environment
Address by Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director-General DG DEVCO
Check Against Delivery
I would like to thank you for the invitation. It is a great honor to address this audience; it is also a recognition of the very substantive cooperation between the European Union and Africa on environment, climate change, biodiversity, natural resources management and the green economy.
I would like to place this meeting as an important stepping stone in the preparation of the Summit between the EU and the African Union that will take place in Abidjan in November this year.
Therefore, allow me to start by demonstrating how comprehensive our partnership already is. Let me just recall some of the policy areas and main initiatives supported by the EU in Africa:
- Biodiversity conservation, through the Biodiversity for Life initiative that supports notably a network of key protected areas across Africa; and the EU Action Plan against Wildlife trafficking.
- Sustainable forest management and the fight against illegal logging, notably through the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and REDD+; and the current EU Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership.
- Climate action, notably through the Global Climate Change Alliance -GCCA+ and the EU commitment to allocate at least 20 % of its budget to addressing climate change (in 2015, the EU and its Member States provided EUR 17.6 billion to developing countries for climate action).
- Sustainable energy in Africa, notably through the support to Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (the EU has committed EUR 1.5 billion to support the generation of 5 GW of renewable energy in Africa). We talk about scale.
- Enhancing resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction.
- Strengthening land governance (notably through the implementation of the VGGT); combatting desertification and land degradation, notably through our support to the Great Green Wall Initiative; promoting sustainable land management, notably through TerrAfrica and the Evergreen Agriculture Partnership.
- Green economy through the Switch Africa Green and SwitchMed initiatives and the Programme of Action on Green Economy (PAGE).
- Tackling pollution, including through promoting access to water and Sanitation, supporting the energy transition and the Sound management of chemicals and waste, through the Quick Start Programme and the Special Programme.
- Last but not least, environment and climate change are an overarching priority that the EU systematically strives to mainstream across all sectors of its cooperation and supports a number of African countries to mainstream environment through the Poverty and Environment Initiative, and through supporting Natural Capital Accounting (WAVES).
This is still an incomplete list.
All these actions are important and useful in their own right. We must continue on this path and we stand ready to support your efforts. However, these actions are also needed to achieve a much larger objective: to move Africa on its way to sustainable economic development in line with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the UN 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
This objective will be central at the upcoming EU-AU Summit that will take place in November in Abidjan.
I am here today to offer you to make the subjects discussed here an integral part of the renewed and deepened partnership between Europe and Africa that we want to launch in Abidjan.
I would like to invite you to build an ambitious agenda on environment, biodiversity, climate change and green economy for the Summit and beyond.
This could include the following areas on which the EU is very keen to continue and step up our cooperation:
First, we want to work together towards strengthening resilience against the impacts of climate change and of natural disasters.
We want to further strengthen our partnership in the fight against climate change. And to bring about a real energy revolution, notably through our support to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative.
Secondly, we want to enhance security, notably through addressing the illegal exploitation and trafficking of wildlife and natural resources, which fuel crime and conflicts; and to promoting stability and sustainability through strengthening the governance and management of land and natural resources.
In this context, building on the AMCEN proposal to develop an African charter on the management of natural resources, the EU would like to propose to work with Africa on developing a joint charter.
Thirdly and very importantly, we want to create green jobs by promoting the green economy in Africa, complementing efforts to promote the circular economy in Europe. The new EU External Investment Plan, which will mobilize more than EUR 40 billion in investments can play an essential role in supporting Africa’s transition to the green economy.
For all these objectives, we want to step up policy dialogue and join forces in international fora:
UNEA 3 that should generate a strong commitment to address pollution; as Erik Solheim said this morning, it’s the leading cause of premature deaths in the world. 600,000 people die each year, in Africa alone, due to indoor air pollution.
The 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where we need to focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the NDCs.
The 13th COP of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification where we hope to agree on a new Strategic Framework for the fight against desertification, duly integrating the gender dimension and addressing the links between sustainability, stability and security.
The Conference of Valletta on ocean governance, where we hope to agree on enhanced action to strengthen ocean governance and the sustainable use of ocean resources in Africa.
Next year’s COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which, been the first one hosted by Africa (Egypt), should focus on the conservation and sustainable use of Africa’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity.
As we have shown in Paris on climate change, when we work together, we can be instrumental for the adoption of ambitious international commitments.
If we make this our common agenda and roadmap for the Summit and beyond, I am sure you, as environment ministers, and we at the European Union -with our experience in addressing these challenges at home and our development cooperation- can create the conditions needed to advance Africa and Europe towards our common objective of building sustainable and resilient societies based on sustainable industrial and economic development, respecting the environment and creating green jobs.
The EU stands ready to work with you on these common objectives and to make them key items of the summit in Abidjan.
Thank you again for giving me the floor. I look forward to our further discussions on these matters.