Globally, 80 percent of land degradation is caused by agriculture. Since 1950, 65 percent of Africa’s cropland, which millions depend on, has been affected by land degradation by mining, poor farming practices, and illegal logging.
Meanwhile, an estimated 375 million young Africans are estimated to enter the job market within the next 15 years. Of this population, 200 million will live in rural areas.
In an innovative push to better drive its development projects in the continent, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has launched Africa Environment Partnership Platform and organized the 1st Environment Platform that was held recently in Nairobi.
The theme for the AEPP meeting was “50 years of Environmental Governance and Sustainability in Africa,” marking this important milestone in the annals of Africa’s environmental governance and management processes.
The purpose of the meeting was to take stock of the present environmental policy and programmes implementation choices that will deliver a sustainable and secure future for the unborn generations, in line with both global aspirations such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
According to Estherine Fotabong NEPAD Director of Programmes implementation and coordination said the platform will serve as a coordinating organ to help galvanize resource mobilization efforts and for pursuing resource mobilization strategies, approaches to support the implementation of environmental initiatives, particularly those identified in the Environment Action Plan.
“We have great initiatives on land degradation, like the great green wall, Grow Africa Programme, Africa Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), so we hope this platform will be able to help us better coordinate these different activities,” said Fotabong
The Environment Partnership Platform according to a concept note from NEPAD is in responds to a request from the African Union Summit which mandated African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) to conduct a substantive analysis of the outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) Summit and develop a roadmap for the effective implementation of the outcomes in Africa.
“The platform will coordinate, mobilize resources, foster knowledge and align support for the implementation of the Environment Action Plan,” the concept note stated.
Additionally, the 14th Session of AMCEN of September 2012, decided to develop and implement Regional Flagship Programmes (RFPs) as a means to ensure the effective implementation of the outcomes of the Rio +20 Summit.
The platform will seek to deliver a paradigm shift in addressing environmental degradation in Africa, in both public and private sectors and to develop innovative models. It will also engender the prerequisite political support, needed institutional structures and adequate human capacity at national and regional levels to ensure integrated environmental management.
The environment, though a cross cutting, will remain distinct and adequately harmonized with other sectors and priorities like agriculture, infrastructure and energy. Climate related risks will increasingly be mainstreamed into development and adaptation actions that will be carried out in priority regions and sectors to meet the need of especially vulnerable rural populations in Africa, according to NEPAD.
The rural populations of Africa are heavily dependent on natural resources for livelihoods with the ecosystem providing food, medicine, energy and construction materials, thus the need to better coordinate project activities geared at guaranteeing food security.
“Food security for Africa is not only derived from agriculture but also from natural resources and the ecosystems,” Fotabong points out. The platform is in response to a strong imperative to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to programme designing and implementation and strengthen the necessary synergies and improve coordination at various levels.
To achieve this, a country-driven and regionally-integrated Initiative that will provide the tools for action and platform for partnerships that will deliver results has become imperative.Coordinated by NEPAD, the initiative will be fully aligned with and be an integral part of the CAADP framework, as well as cultivating the necessary multi-sectoral engagements, including the environment, natural resources and climate change policies and programmes.
“To support countries, a virtual and physical African Alliance was established where knowledge is exchanged to identify best practice and partnerships across stakeholder groups are catalysed,” she said.Accordingly, the platform will also foster a coherent African development Agenda as well as sustaining the collective power and urge for action. It will also facilitate assessment of individual (country, region, sector, etc.) performance against continental and even global benchmarks. Fotabong says they hope to get many development partners align in support of the new programme that will also serve as a collaborative platform to identify innovative sources of financing.
“We are also looking forward to the alignment of development partners to support these programmes” Building partnerships is a critical success factor for the sustenance of the platform given the multiplicity of actors and its ability to deliver on the mandate assigned to it by AMCEN. The platform will therefore create an avenue for constructive dialogue, especially as Africa could benefit from the experience of countries across the world that have achieved considerable environmental sustainability.
Speaking on behalf of the Deputy President of Kenya, Mr William Ruto, the platform was officially opened by H.E Mr Keriako Tobiko, Cabinet Secretary of Environment of the Republic of Kenya. Mr Tobiko said that the Africa Environmental Partnership Platform presents Africa with an opportunity to put issues of the environment at the core of policy discourse through a multi-stakeholder engagement.
“I urge the NEPAD Agency as the technical body of the African Union and convenors of the Platform to ensure that the platform does not only become a once-a-year affair. It should be the go-to vehicle for assessing and tracking the progress of environmental sustainability on the continent,” Mr Tobiko said.