By IISD Reporting Services
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting was organized by UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union (AU). Participants deliberated on the themes and objectives of Rio+20, agreed on a consensus statement and adopted a draft resolution on Africa’s effective participation at Rio+20.
The meeting convened in conjunction with seventh session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-7), and took place from 20-25 October 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Over 250 delegates from member States, regional and subregional organizations, UN agencies, Major Groups and intergovernmental organizations attended the meeting. Delegates participated in the Expert Segment and CFSSD-7 from 20-22 October. The Ministerial Segment convened from 24-25 October 2011.
During the Expert Segment, delegates discussed progress in implementing the Food Security and Sustainable Development (FSSD) work plan for the biennium 2010/2011, heard progress reports on implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the development of strategic agricultural commodity value chains, and food security in Africa.
As part of the Africa regional preparatory process, delegates considered the Africa Regional Review Report for Rio+20 as well as the Africa reports on: New and emerging challenges; Green economy in the context of sustainable development; Institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development (IFSD); International Environmental Governance (IEG); and Means of Implementation. An open-ended drafting group was established to deliberate on the Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20, which met from Saturday, 21 October until Monday, 24 October. During the Ministerial Segment, delegates took part in policy dialogues on the themes of Rio+20, which contributed to the Consensus Statement.
Delegates engaged in lively discussions on the themes of Rio+20, with most participants agreeing on the need for strengthened IFSD. While there was some opposition to the idea of transforming the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a specialized agency, all participants agreed on the need to strengthen the organization.
Delegates supported the concept of green economy, with the caveat that it needs more definition. They agreed that transitioning to a green economy should not result in protectionism or trade conditionalities, there is a need for enabling environments, and sustainable land management should be a part of the green economy framework.
On means of implementation, delegates committed themselves to a number of objectives including ensuring improved environmental governance, transparency and accountability. They also called on the international community to meet existing commitments, such as the need to double aid to Africa.
Overall, there was strong agreement that a favorable outcome at Rio+20 for the African continent and ensuring that the relevant issues are addressed can only be achieved through speaking with “one” regional voice. As a result, delegates spent many hours deliberating over the consensus statement. There was some concern among delegates as to which organizations and initiatives form part of the sustainable development framework and what issues are hindering sustainable development progress. However, at the end of the day, the will to reach an agreement prevailed and ensured that the issues most pertinent to Africa were included in the consensus statement, which will be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.