Speaking at the opening of the ministerial segment of the conference, "Cooperation for the Development and Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment in sub-Saharan Africa," Toeper said that the challenge is to recognize that the coastal and marine resources of Africa are important assets for the promotion of peace and security, as well as equity and sustainable development. "This conference must focus on building greater equity in the use of the goods and services from the coastal and marine environment," he said.
The Cape Town conference, jointly sponsored by UNEP, the Government of South Africa and the Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea, was set-up to revitalize the current poor cooperation in marine affairs amongst the sub-Saharan countries of Africa.
More specifically, it was organized to strengthen the existing regional Nairobi (East and Southern Africa) and Abidjan (West and Central Africa) conventions, and to improve the coordination and implementation of existing regional marine programmes and actions plans. It was also designed to build on the achievements of the Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management, held in Maputo, Mozambique from 18 to 24 July 1998.
"PACSICOM was an important landmark and part of a well conceived plan to forge an integrated African response to the problems of the marine environment," said Toepfer. "Cape Town and the proposed Partnership Conference are crucial elements in thisl process."
On Friday, Ministers are expected to adopt a "Cape Town Declaration" that will call for a "partnership conference" between African countries, donor communities and other partners in the year 2000. Its purpose will be "to promote the implementation of the African Agenda for the development and the protection of the coastal and marine environment."
The Declaration also calls upon UNEP, as the secretariat of the Abidjan and Nairobi conventions, to develop an action plan for their revitalization and co-ordination.
Referring to the successful UNEP sponsored meetings in Nairobi last month to deliberate on African positions for global conferences on climate change, ozone and desertification, Toepfer said that recent meetings with African ministers have helped to institutionalize regional cooperation in dealing with the environment and sustainable development issues in Africa.
"These meetings, and now we can add Cape Town to the list, have helped place the issues confronting the African environment on the international agenda as never before," said Toepfer. "Today, we have an opportunity to build a new partnership for the 21st century in Africa. Lets build on the momentum already created and seize this unique opportunity."
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Robert Bisset UNEP Press Officer in Cape Town at the President Hotel on tel. 434-8111 (Room 446).
UNEP Senior Programme Officer
Tel: (254-2) 624278, Fax: (254-2) 622788,
UNEP Press Officer
Tel: (254-2) 623084, Fax: (254-2) 623692,
UNEP News Release 1998/127