African ministers of environment will meet in Nairobi, Kenya, from 30 November to 4 December to discuss a plan to effectively respond to environmental threats posed by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an official source said on Thursday.
The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa will host the virtual session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).
The conference will discuss, among others, a plan by African ministers to engage with their counterparts from the rest of the world on pressing matters concerning the environment, UNEP officials said.
UNEP regional office for Africa Director, Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, said the main focus of the ministerial meeting would be to enhance Africa’s efforts to respond to environmental threats and to work towards enhancing resilience from the impacts of climate change on the African population.
“Recovery from the pandemic is urgently needed since the climate, biodiversity and ecosystems are interdependent and fully integrated. There is need to enhance the society’s plan to deal with the green issues and the recovery from the climate shocks,” Koudenoukpo said in a speech read by Mohamed Atani, an officer at the UNEP Regional Office for Africa, during a pre-AMCEN meeting in the Kenyan capital.
The African ministers of environment will also discuss programmes to respond to pressing environmental concerns already placed on the agenda of the UN Environment Assembly.
The assembly guides the world on matters such as the use of plastics and other chemicals and how they could be eradicated to ensure the world’s environment is free from pollutants.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed some countries to an increased level of smuggling of wildlife, biodiversity and forestry products, which is partly leading to an accelerated scale of environmental pollution, soil erosion and the loss of plants and forests.
According to the organisers of the meeting, which takes place every two years, most countries are unwilling to negotiate on crucial matters concerning the environment through online forums and have decided they might not participate.
The meeting is expected to take a decision to possibly back a plan to postpone the UNEA 5 and other major meetings which require face-to-face negotiations which also include the management meetings of the UN climate change summits.
The meeting will also discuss the most urgent issues concerning the environment in Africa, the future of the ongoing negotiations to preserve the climate during the pandemic and to decide on a programme of work for the UNEP and some of its bodies where face-to-face meetings are required, officials said.
The ministers will also develop a plan of action on how the UNEP Africa division might implement some of its key programmes during the pandemic, which include a plan to introduce an environmental stimulus package to help countries deal with the threats to the environment.
Edited By: Vincent Obi