Photo: Since dumpsites are already overflowing with waste in Kenya, textiles are often dumped directly into rivers, as in the Nairobi river. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace - Photo: 2022

African Ministers Commit to Fighting Pollution, Climate Change, Loss of Nature

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — The 18th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) closed with environment ministers from 54 African countries adopting a series of decisions and key messages to tackle climate change, the loss of nature, pollution and waste, including the elimination of open dumping and burning of waste.

The conference took place from September 12-16 in Dakar, Senegal.

The session comes in the wake of regional health, food, energy and financial crisis, noted Environment Minister Abdou Karim Sall. This added urgency to the conference’s theme of “securing people’s well-being and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa,” he said.

Of several commitments made by the Ministers at the conference were two on pollution: To eliminate open dumping and burning of waste in Africa and to promote the use of waste as a resource for value and job creation. 

Development partners from wealthy countries were urged to support African countries to better monitor and reduce methane and black carbon emissions associated with waste.

Attending for the U.S. as a special envoy was former U.S. Secretary of State under Barack Obama, John Kerry. He pledged support for Africa’s efforts to deal with the impact of climate change.

Throughout his roughly 20-minute speech, Kerry reiterated the importance of partnerships in the battle against the climate crisis. He said the private sector, civil society organizations, governments and indigenous groups must come together.

Africa, he noted, is home to 17 of the world’s 20 most climate-vulnerable countries. He also noted the gap between developed and developing nations—20 countries, including the U.S., are responsible for 80 per cent of the world’s emissions, compared to 48 of sub-Saharan African countries, which are responsible for just 0.55 per cent.

“And is there a disparity in that? Yes, there is. Is there an unfairness built into that? Yes, there is,” Kerry said. “Mother Nature does not measure where the emissions come from. They don’t have a label of one country or another on them. And it’s important for all of us to now come together to figure out how we’re going to compensate for that and deal with it.”

Collins Nzovu, minister of green economy and environment in Zambia, said he’s thrilled the U.S. is back in the game of fighting the climate crisis after a four-year lapse.

Kerry is on a two-nation tour of West Africa. He began his visit in Nigeria, where he met with top government officials, including President Muhammadu Buhari, and pledged to support the country’s efforts to transition to green energy.

In a related development, Tanzania’s Energy Minister Januari Makamba joined Uganda’s parliament in criticizing a European Union parliament resolution calling on the two countries to stop developing their oil and gas projects in the East African region.

Tanzania, he shot back, like many other countries in the world, is entitled to use its resources the same way industrialized countries do for their people.

His comments come as Uganda and Tanzania are building the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) project, stretching 896 miles from Lake Albert in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean.

The EU parliament resolution has warned of human rights abuses and the social and environmental risk posed by the Eacop project.

“We care more about our country than other people do,” said the Tanzanian minister. “We will continue to make sure this project protects local communities, protects the environment, and meets our international standards so that we will continue but we commit to do.”

Uganda’s Deputy Speaker also criticized the European resolution, describing it as based on misinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of key environmental and human rights protection facts. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 September 2022]

Photo: Since dumpsites are already overflowing with waste in Kenya, textiles are often dumped directly into rivers, as shown in the Nairobi river. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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