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Environment Ministers and technical experts meet to discuss Africa's response to climate change

Nairobi, 20 October 1998 - Technical experts from across Africa began a three-day meeting here yesterday to prepare for a special session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN), to be held here at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi from 22 to 23 October.

Over thirty African ministers of the environment are expected to attend what Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, calls an "unique opportunity" to consult on important multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), covering issues such as ozone, biodiversity, desertification and, most importantly, climate change.

The meeting, financed by the German Government, has been convened by UNEP to give African countries the chance to better prepare for important inter-governmental meetings later this year, namely: the Tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; the Second Conference of the Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification; and, in particular, the Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 2 to 13 November, 1998.

The focus of this week's talks will be Buenos Aires and follow-up to last year's Kyoto Protocol. The ministers and government officials from across the continent will learn more about, and discuss, the implications for Africa of important "mechanisms" in the Protocol, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This mechanism may offer promising opportunities to African countries to promote economic development through technical and financial transfers and assistance without endangering the climate and the environment.

A key objective of the CDM is to promote sustainable development in developing countries, while contributing to the objectives of the UNFCCC. It is designed to assist governments and private entities in industrialized countries to undertake projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. In return, the industrialized countries will receive credit for these projects in the form of certified emission reductions which they can use to meet part of their emission control targets as specified in the Kyoto Protocol.

"The CDM may provide ample opportunities for early and substantial emission reductions which can involve all parties, irrespective of their regional or economic affiliations, in collaborative, cost-effective emission reduction and climate control," said Toepfer. "However, it is important that the concerns of developing countries are heard and that they actively participate in the debate on this critical subject," he said.

"At a regional workshop on the CDM held in Nairobi in July a number of the participants expressed the need for better understanding of the issues to be discussed in Buenos Aires, so that they can be better prepared for the negotiations and be more aware of the implications of these issues for Africa," continued Toepfer. "I'm delighted that UNEP is able to meet this request and facilitate what is a unique gathering," he said.

The focus of UNEP's work in the CDM will include clarifying the social, economic and environmental implications of CDM for the economies of developing countries. This includes secondary environmental effects, employment and market effects as well as trade effects. UNEP will also assist developing countries in clarifying how CDM can be a mechanism which could contribute to development which is sustainable, and a mechanism for technology and financial transfers. Enhancing awareness, understanding and capacities of developing countries on these and other issues, and hence in formulating and implementing CDM projects, will be another key area of work for UNEP in this area.

"The climate change meeting in Buenos Aires next month should be a 'nuts-and-bolts' meeting anchored in common sense whereby Kyoto's theory can be transformed into reality. It will be up to the delegates there to give substance to key basic elements such as the revolutionary Clean Development Mechanism," said Toepfer. "I believe this week's meeting in Nairobi will enrich the understanding of all the pertinent issues on the Buenos Aires agenda and so enable African States to formulate their positions on the basis of full and informed understanding of the contents and implications of the Kyoto Protocol," he said.

This week's expert meeting will concentrate on the CDM, but other climate issues will be discussed such as public awareness, education and training. There will also be a special session on the Global Environment Facility and an important session on the interlinkages between the various conventions. Currently, there are over 150 MEAs that address environmental concerns. These agreements not only have important scientific interlinkages, but also significant connections to wider economic and development issues.

Note to journalists:

The expert meeting runs from 10am to 6pm from Monday 19 to Wednesday 21 October. The ministerial session will open at 9.30am on Thursday 22 October. Accredited media are invited to attend both meetings except for 11am to 12.30pm on Friday which will be a closed ministerial session. A press conference immediately following the opening session of the ministerial session is scheduled for 11am on Thursday 22 October.

For media accreditation, contact Ms. Anila Shah on tel. 623089, Room S-223. Journalists who are not accredited to the United Nations office at Nairobi should bring a copy of their press card and one other form of ID: drivers license, passport, etc.

For more information or to arrange interviews contact:



For more information, please contact:

Mr. Tore J. Brevik
Information and Public Affairs
UNEP, PO Box 30552
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254-2-623292
Fax: +254-2-623692

Richard Lumbe,
UNEP Regional Information Officer for Africa
on tel: 623181.

Robert Bisset,
UNEP Press Office
on tel 623084, fax: 623692,

UNEP News Release 1998/106

Tuesday 20 Oct 1998
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