Environment Initiative and Action Plan of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

Environment Initiative and Action Plan of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)African Heads of State and Government adopted the New Partnership for Africa’s Development at the thirty-seventh Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Lusaka, Zambia from 9-11 July 2001. The NEPAD policy framework was finalized by the Heads of State Implementation Committee on 23 October 2001. In adopting NEPAD, African Heads of State and Government realized that Africa can only take its proper place in the international community if it gains economic strength, hence the objective of NEPAD is to stimulate Africa’s development by bridging existing gaps in priority sectors, which include agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, information and communication technology, environment, tourism, S&T, the African Peer Review Mechanism, and engagement of the private sector and civil society. NEPAD was designed to meet the AU’s development objectives and serves as a programme of the AU.
Since its adoption, NEPAD has increasingly gained recognition from the international community and Africa’s development partners. In November 2002, the United Nations General Assembly passed a declaration (A/RES/57/2) and a resolution on NEPAD (A/RES/57/7), affirming the UN system’s support for the implementation of NEPAD and recommending that the international community use NEPAD as its framework to support development in Africa. The Secretary General also established the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa to coordinate the UN’s support to Africa, guide reporting on Africa and coordinate global advocacy in support of NEPAD.
The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, recognized that NEPAD provides a framework for sustainable development in Africa. This Plan of Implementation also called on the international community to: promote technology development, transfer and diffusion to Africa; further develop the technology and knowledge available to African centers of excellence; and support African countries in developing institutions and research activities capable of developing and adapting “world-class” technologies.
GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES: The highest authority of the NEPAD implementation process is the AU Summit of Heads of State and Government. The AU Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) reports annually to this Summit and is comprised of 20 states nominated to spearhead the NEPAD process. The HSGIC is chaired by President Olusegan Obasanjo of Nigeria, with Presidents Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria as Vice-Chairs. The HSGIC meets every four months and is tasked with setting policies, priorities and programmes of action. It also identifies strategic issues that need to be researched, planned and managed at the continental level; develops mechanisms for reviewing progress; and reviews progress in the implementation of past decisions and takes appropriate steps to address problems and delays. A Steering Committee, comprised of the Personal Representatives of the HSGIC, oversees projects and programme development, while the NEPAD Secretariat coordinates the implementation of projects and programmes approved by the HSGIC.
NEPAD Secretariat: The NEPAD Secretariat, based in South Africa, is responsible for coordinating the preparation of NEPAD’s programmes and projects, mobilizing technical and financial support, and facilitating and supporting implementation of NEPAD programmmes. The Secretariat liaises with development partners and multilateral institutions, mobilizes private sector participation, outsources technical work, represents the programme at development fora, and monitors and reports on progress. The Secretariat is divided into three work streams: project and programme policy coordination; administration and secretarial services; and communications and marketing of NEPAD inside and outside Africa.
The African Ministerial Confrence of Environment (AMCEN) guided the development and subsequent adoption of the action plan by the Assembly of the African Union at its second ordinary session, held in Maputo, Mozambique in July 2003. The action plan takes fully into account the relevant recommendations on NEPAD contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation as well as recommendations agreed upon during the discussion on the environment component of NEPAD held in during the 23rd session of the UN Environment Programmes Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
The overall objectives of the action plan are to complement relevant African processes, including the work programme of the revitalized AMCEN, with a view to improving environmental conditions in Africa. It also aims to build Africa’s capacity to implement regional and international environmental agreements and to effectively address the African environmental challenges in the overall context of the implementation of NEPAD.
The action plan is organized into clusters of programmatic and project activities to be implemented over an initial period of 10 years covering the following priority sectors and cross-cutting issues as identified in Environment Initiative of NEPAD, namely: combating land degradation, drought and desertification; wetlands; invasive species; marine and coastal resources; cross-border conservation of natural resources; climate change; and cross-cutting issues. The action plan also complements the on-going AMCEN activities including the: generation and dissemination of environmental information in Africa; programme on poverty and environment in Africa; environmental assessment in Africa; and strengthening of the collaboration with major bodies in Africa.
The plan was prepared with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), under the leadership of AMCEN, UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa and in close cooperation with the NEPAD secretariat, and the African Union Commission. The action plan was prepared in two phases. The first phase (September 2001-July 2002), conducted by the steering committee of the UNEP/GEF medium-sized project on NEPAD, comprising the representatives of the five members of the Bureau of AMCEN as well as the five initiating countries of NEPAD, developed the initial framework of an action plan. During the second phase (September 2002-May 2003) nine thematic workshops were convened in order to finalize of the action plan.
AMCEN devoted considerable time to the matter at its tenth regular session in June 2004. Under AMCEN’s guidance various activities have been undertaken to realize the action plan, including the implementation of aspects of the action plan by some member States, improving cooperation between China and Africa to protect the environment and the execution of the 2004–2006 work programme of AMCEN.
In addition several action plans have been designed. These action plans are grouped into key areas of concern or programmes, and  address the need for more detailed frameworks, policies, strategies, action plans and key pilot investments in that specific field. The programmes cover such issues as: land degradation, drought and desertification; management of coastal and marine resources; management of freshwater resources such as wetlands, ground water resources and catchment areas; management of biomes, habitats, species and genetic resources; management of alien invasive species; management of cultural heritage; management of non-renewable resources; management of cities – the impacts of urbanization/sustainable cities; integrated waste management and pollution control; energy production and consumption; and impact of population dynamics on the environment –including the impact of HIV/AIDS and war. Among the Plan’s specific objectives are to:
  • contribute to the implementation of NEPAD through the effective implementation of its Environment Initiative;
  • promote the sustainable use of Africa natural resources;
  • strengthen public and political support to sub-regional and regional environmental initiatives;
  • support the implementation by African countries of their commitments under the global and regional environment conventions and other legal instruments to which they are party to;
  • enhance the human and institutional capacities of the African countries to address effectively the environmental challenges facing the continent;
  • promote the integration of environmental considerations into poverty reduction strategies;
  • foster regional and sub-regional co-operation to address environmental challenges;
  • build a network of regional centers of excellence in environmental science and management;
  • mobilize and direct African and international scientific and technical communities to solve Africa’s pressing environmental problems;
  • enhance the effective participation of the African major groups and their important contribution to inform intergovernmental decision-making;
  • improve the institutional framework for regional environmental governance;
  • mobilize international resources for the implementation of the African environmental initiative; and
  • provide a framework for the establishment of a solid partnership between Africa and their bilateral and multilateral partners, including the multilateral financial institutions such as the Global Environment Facility and in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
STRATEGIC PLAN TO BUILD AFRICA’S CAPACITY TO IMPLEMENT GLOBAL AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONVENTIONS: One of the priority goals of the NEPAD environment initiative is to build Africa’s capacity to implement environmental conventions and such related international legal instruments. As part of the action plan, AMCEN adopted the ‘Strategic Plan to Build Africa’s Capacity to Implement Global and Regional Environmental Conventions.’ The overall objective of plan is to enable African countries to implement in a coordinated and comprehensive manner their commitments under global and regional environmental conventions and other international legal instruments. It will also promote sharing of experiences at the national, subregional and regional levels and encourage South-South cooperation. The plan is organized around clusters of activities and processes that will be implemented over a five-year period, namely: human resources development; public education and awareness raising; strengthening institutions and improving coordination; supporting the development of information systems and related environmental assessments; mobilizing and strengthening the role of the scientific and technical communities; and promoting South-South cooperation and sharing of experiences.
Among Africa’s capacity needs include the following:
  • development of adequate national policy frameworks for the effective implementation of global and regional conventions;
  • coordinated preparation and implementation of national, legal and regulatory frameworks to comprehensively address the complexity of issues covered by global conventions;
  • promotion and enhancement of adequate institutional mechanisms for the implementation of such frameworks, including strengthening the role of environmental institutions;
  • promotion and enhancement mechanisms for environmental information, including coordination, integration and delivery to identified targets, particularly those involved in the policy and decision-making process;
  • promotion and enhancement of mechanisms required for regional cooperation on issues of common concern such as the management of shared ecosystems, in conformity with existing agreements between the countries concerned, including, for example, migratory species, trade in endangered species, shared coastal and inland water bodies, transboundary river basins, pollution and exchange of information and expertise;
  • promotion of information on and understanding of the status of and trends in environmental degradation, vulnerability to climate change, impacts of land degradation and desertification and implications of biodiversity loss in addition to a variety of other environmental challenges is still modest in many African countries;
  • enhancement of the negotiating and technical skills of the African representatives at the meetings of the major global conventions; and
  • public awareness of global conventions and related sustainable development instruments.

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