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African environment ministers agree common position on the Kyoto protocol's clean development mechanism

Nairobi, 23 October 1998 - Meeting here today under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), African ministers of environment agreed on a common position with regard to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of the "mechanisms" established as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) Kyoto Protocol. The ministers agreed that the CDM is "a high priority since Africa is the most vulnerable continent when it comes to the impact of climate change."

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.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP and host of the meeting, assured the assembled delegates in his closing remarks that UNEP will make every effort to meet the request of African governments for UNEP to play a more active role in CDM related activities.

Stressing that UNEP remains committed to the United Nations Special Initiative on Africa, Toepfer said that the presence of so many ministers and high officials at the Nairobi meeting was a testimony of the importance African governments attach to the environment and the process of solving environmental problems through dialogue and cooperation.

26 environment ministers met for two days in the Kenyan capital to consult on issues related to ozone layer depletion, biodiversity, desertification and climate change ahead of important inter-governmental meetings on these issues, in particular, the fourth session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Buenos Aires, 2-13 November 1998.

This week's meeting, funded by the Government of Germany, was a special consultation of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) on the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol and related multilateral environmental agreements. It was designed to provide ministers with an opportunity to learn more about, and discuss, the implications for Africa of major international environment agreements, and, also the strong inter-linkages between them.

In their final report, which will feed into the Buenos Aires process, the African environment ministers requested UNEP, through AMCEN, to develop a coordination mechanism for, and also undertake demonstration projects on, integrated planning and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.

On the issue of the CDM, which was a major focus of the meeting, the ministers noted that, in order for the CDM to succeed in the region and internationally, there should be a proactive approach and to design the CDM in such a way that it is advantageous to Africa and the private sector. They called for more regional dialogues that involve the private sector, NGOs and governments and said that the CDM should not be used as a substitute for other "mechanisms" such as official development assistance and the Global Environment Facility.

The ministers went on to recommend that the Buenos Aires climate change meeting gives consideration to financial assistance for developing countries by establishing two funding mechanisms: an "adaptation fund" for the poor and most vulnerable countries, and a "seed fund" specifically to assist African countries to be better prepared for the CDM.

Stressing that technology transfer and development was critical for Africa when it comes to sustainable development, the ministers also recognized that the issue of debt relief and poverty alleviation, together with the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources and control of desertification were of paramount importance to Africa.

"African environment ministers had an opportunity to meet with international technical experts to discuss their concerns and prepare themselves for Buenos Aires and other important meetings on the environment such as the Convention on Desertification in Dakar, Senegal, later this year", said Toepfer. "We did not expect a declaration or a plan of action, but, more importantly, a common understanding of the issues," he continued.

"This meeting clearly marks the start of a new phase of enhanced and intensified partnership between UNEP and Africa," said Toepfer.


For more information or to arrange interviews contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
Director of UNEP Information and Public Affairs on
tel. +254-2-623292.

Richard Lumbe,
UNEP Regional Information Officer for Africa
on tel: +254-2623181.
Robert Bisset,
UNEP Press Officer
on tel +254-2-623084,
fax: 623692,

UNEP News Release 1998/111

Sunday 25 Oct 1998
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