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UNEP Executive Director Commits to Increased Assistance to Africa at AMCEN

UNEP12 September 2012: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner addressed African ministers attending the 14th session of the African Ministerial Conference for the Environment (AMCEN), convening from 7-14 September 2012, in Arusha, Tanzania. Steiner underscored UNEP's commitment to assist African States in making the transition to a Green Economy, negotiating a new climate treaty, building awareness on chemicals and hazardous wastes, and improving the management of drylands.

Steiner highlighted that UNEP, in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and governments, has launched a Partnership for the Green Economy aimed at expanding advisory services, capacity building activities and research, tailoring the Green Economy to national circumstances. He emphasized that UNEP is keen to collaborate with more countries in Africa to maximize the opportunities of a Green Economy transition across a sectors including natural resource management, transport and clean energy systems.

Steiner underscored the need to make progress at the upcoming 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, to take place in Doha, Qatar, at the end of 2012, to negotiate a new climate treaty that can enter into force by 2020. He announced that UNEP will continue supporting the African Group of Negotiators. Steiner also noted that Ghana and Nigeria are members of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), and urged more countries to join the Coalition.

Steiner drew attention to the recently-released Global Chemicals Outlook, noting that poisonings from pesticides in sub-Saharan Africa now exceeds the total annual overseas development aid given to the region for basic health services, excluding HIV/AIDS. He underscored the need for better end-of-life chemicals management, and said UNEP is working to build awareness and capacity in Africa.

He also indicated that UNEP will strengthen its cooperation with the Secretariat of UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and regional organizations working in the area of sustainable land management. Steiner emphasized UNEP's efforts, in collaboration with AMCEN and Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall Secretariats, to support the initiative of conserving and managing the natural resources of drylands. Steiner underscored UNEP's plans to reinforce such support, citing ongoing discussion with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and research communities to provide a scientific base to the initiative. [UNEP Press Release]