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United Nations United Nations Environment Programme
Action plan of the Environment Initiative of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)

United Nations Environment Programme

June 2003

For further information on NEPAD's environmental programme contact:
Elizabeth Byaruhanga, NEPAD Secretariat, P.O. Box 1234, Midrand, HALFWAY HOUSE 1685, South Africa
Tel: (+27) 11 313 3836, Fax: (+27) 11 313 3450
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Executive Summmary


  1. The African region offers significant potential for human, social and economic development but is facing enormous challenges. Rapid population growth, rising levels of poverty and inappropriate development practices are the main factors influencing the state of the environment in Africa. Other factors that have lead to continued environmental degradation include the impact of drought and other natural disasters, disease, ineffective development policies, unfavourable terms of international trade and the debt burden.

  2. In adopting the United Nations Millennium Declaration in New York in September 2000, the heads of State representing the international community, specifically agreed to "take special measures to address the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa, including debt cancellation, improved market access, enhanced Official Development Assistance and increased flows of Foreign Direct Investment, as well as transfers of technology."

New Partnership for Africa's Development

  1. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) adopted by the African Heads of State and Government is an initiative in the context of which the leaders agreed, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction, that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. NEPAD recognizes that the range of issues necessary to nurture the region's environmental base and sustainable use of natural resources is vast and complex, and that a systematic combination of initiatives is necessary in order to develop a coherent environmental programme.

  2. NEPAD calls for the development and adoption of an environment initiative - a coherent action plan and strategies - to address the region's environmental challenges while at the same time combating poverty and promoting socio-economic development. The action plan of the environment initiative of NEPAD covering the first decade of the twenty-first century is a response to such challenges. It has been prepared through a consultative and participatory process under the leadership of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN). The plan relates to Africa's common and shared sustainable development problems and concerns. It is a body of collective and individual responsibilities and actions that African countries adopt and will implement to maintain the integrity of the environment and ensure the sustainable use of their natural resources through partnerships with the international community. It provides an appropriate framework for the establishment of a strong partnership for the protection of the environment between Africa and its partners based on the commitments contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

  3. The Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg, from 26 August to 4 September 2002 provides that "The New Partnership for Africa's Development is a commitment by African leaders to the people of Africa. It recognizes that partnerships among African countries themselves and between them and with the international community are key elements of a shared and common vision to eradicate poverty, and furthermore it aims to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustained economic growth and sustainable development, while participating actively in the world economy and body politic. It provides a framework for sustainable development on the continent to be shared by all Africa's people". The Johannesburg Plan of Action contains 47 recommendations aimed at ensuring the promotion of sustainable development in Africa in the framework of NEPAD.

  4. Under the leadership of AMCEN and in close cooperation with the secretariat of NEPAD and the African Union as well as with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the action plan for the environment initiative of NEPAD has been prepared in two phases:

    1. A framework of an action plan of the UNEP/GEF medium-sized project;

    2. The conduct of thematic workshops and a consultative meeting/workshop with civil society groups.

  5. The development of the action plan for the environment initiative of NEPAD has been a consultative process lead by African experts and based on a sound methodology for the prioritization of the root causes of environmental degradation, and the identification of the most effective projects, from an environmental, institutional and financial perspective. In this regard, eight thematic workshops were held early in 2003 which were attended by about 800 African experts whose goal was to finalize the action plan. The workshops were held in the following countries: Algeria, on desertification; South Africa, on invasive species; Mali, on poverty and environment; Cameroon, on forests; Kenya, on wetlands; Senegal, on health and environment; Nigeria, on marine and coastal environment and freshwater resources; and Morocco, on climate change. In addition, a consultative meeting was held with civil society groups in Nairobi. The result of the workshops and the consultative meeting was a plan of action to implement the environment initiative of NEPAD, together with over 200 proposed projects to tackle some of the most pressing environmental issues in Africa.

  6. The reports of the eight thematic workshops as well as the revised action plan were reviewed by the Steering Committee held in Maputo, from 23 to 24 April 2003. It is noteworthy that the outcome of the consultative meeting with civil society groups was also taken into account by the Steering Committee. At the meeting of the Steering Committee held in Maputo, the draft action plan of the environment initiative of NEPAD was reviewed. Notable among the achievements at this meeting was the prioritization of the projects (in terms of categories) under the programme areas.

  7. The special session of AMCEN held from 9 to 10 June, 2003 considered the draft action plan of the environment initiative of NEPAD and endorsed it subject to some suggested amendments. The revised draft action plan for the environment initiative of NEPAD is to be submitted to the Summit of the African Union scheduled to be held in Maputo in early July 2003. A fifth meeting of the project steering committee on capacity-building for the implementation of the action plan for the environment initiative will be held in Cairo in October 2003. At the invitation of the Government of Algeria, a meeting of donors will be held in Algiers, in December 2003, to consider the funding of the projects identified in the action plan.

  8. It is worth recalling that the process has been overseen by a project steering committee, comprising representatives of the five members of the Bureau of AMCEN, and the five founding members of NEPAD, who met on four occasions between January 2002 and May 2003 - in Pretoria, Algiers, Dakar and Maputo. The first stage of the process was to prepare a framework for the action plan, which was endorsed by AMCEN at its ninth session held in Kampala from 1 to 5 July 2002, and subsequently by the African Union at its Summit held in Durban from 8 to 11 July 2002.
Environment Action Plan

  1. A coherent, strategic and long-term programme of action has been prepared to promote Africa's sustainable development. This is consistent with NEPAD's emphasis on measures that will ensure that the continent is able to confront its short-term economic growth challenges without losing site of the long-term environmental, poverty eradication and social development imperatives. Sustainable development is about the long-term and can only be achieved through investments in the future. Thus the proposed NEPAD environment programme of action takes a long-term approach. It is about processes, projects and related activities that are aimed at enlarging Africa's economic prospects through sustained environmental management.

  2. The proposed action plan is integrated in the sense that it takes full consideration of economic growth, income distribution, poverty eradication, social equity and better governance as part and parcel of Africa's environmental sustainability agenda. Chapter 8 of NEPAD on the environment initiative cannot be implemented in isolation from the overall objectives of NEPAD and will therefore be implemented in harmony with the other components of NEPAD.

  3. The action plan is organized in clusters of programmatic and project activities to be implemented over an initial period of 10 years. The programmatic areas cover the following priority sectors and cross?cutting issues as identified in the environment initiative of NEPAD: 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 plan of action builds upon the related problems of pollution, forests and plant genetic resources, wetlands, invasive alien species, coastal and marine resources, capacity?building and technology transfer.

  4. The implementation of the action plan of the environment initiative of NEPAD will be a challenge which will require the support and or active participation by all African countries and our development Partners. As an immediate step for the implementation of the action plan, the steering committee decided to convene its fifth meeting in Egypt in October 2003 at the level of ministers to finalize a project proposal on building the capacity of the African countries for the implementation of the Action plan on the environment component of NEPAD. The multi-million projects will be submitted to the donor meeting to be held in Algiers, Algeria during the first week of December 2003 with a view to starting the implementation of this strategic project under the aegis of AMCEN in early 2004.

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