At the commemoration of the World Environment Day on 2nd June at union headquarters in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime spoke about how Africa is responding to the challenges of climate change.
She spoke about the substantial progress that has been made since the launching of the report of the United Nations conference on the human environment in ‘72. For instance in terms of levels of understanding of the environment, and the realization amongst leaders, policymakers and the general populace that we all have a unique role to play in ensuring sustainable development.
Tumusiime said that these have enhanced knowledge about the kinds of interventions needed in protecting our shared heritage and common future, and although structures have been established to address the problems, this has not happened to an appreciably satisfactory degree.
Climate change is currently snowballing an unprecedented loss of biodiversity and significant reduction in food production especially in the developing countries most of which are in Africa. Tumusiime said that a holistic paradigm was needed to deal with this, whereby the mechanisms formulated and the institutions created would be underpinned by sustainable imperatives which would be of benefit both now and in the future.
She discussed that in order to address this, serious efforts are under way to generate environmentally friendly technologies that do not unleash adverse consequences on the environment. In Africa, the Union’s commission is coordinating the implementation of relevant continent-wide policies, programmes and projects such as the great green wall for the Sahara and Sahel initiative, and the African monitoring of the environment for sustainable development (AMESD), among others. These programmes address not only environment and climate change but also biodiversity in its broad sense.
In order to ensure that there are viable forms of global technological cooperation, the committee of ten CAHOSCC on climate change (CAHOSCC) was constituted by the AU Assembly in July ‘09. This will help to spearhead and guide Africa’s engagement in the global climate change negotiations right from the Copenhagen conference of the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC).
The commission of the African Union has institutionalized the celebrations of the Africa Environment Day on March 3rd every year in order to raise awareness on the key environmental challenges facing the continent. Tumusiime said that they will continue to promote synergy between the World Environment Day and the Africa Environment Day for maximum environmental awareness and sustainable development.