AMCEN 2023: A GAIA AFRICA MEMBER PERSPECTIVE
By Kaziro Douglas, Bio Vision Africa, Uganda.
The 19th ordinary session of the Africa Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) took place from 14-18 August 2023 at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa. The session’s theme was Seizing opportunities and enhancing collaboration to address environmental challenges in Africa. Prior to the meeting, UNEP major groups and Stakeholders (CSOs) held a meeting at Capital Hotel in Ethiopia on 12-13 August 2023 and drafted a Major Groups and Stakeholders statement which was read to the Ministers during the main session.
AMCEN was established in December 1985, with a mandate of providing advocacy for environmental protection in Africa and ensuring that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner.
The discussions for the 19th session focused on the twenty-eighth session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) and the Africa Climate Summit (ACS), the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEA6); Africa’s participation in the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution (INC process); Africa’s preparations for the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; preparations for the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management, the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and implementation of 18th AMCEN decisions.
I was a participant with support from GAIA, My focus was mainly on Africa’s participation in the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution (INC process), AMC 18/6 decision on phasing out opening burning in Africa, preparations for the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management, and most of my engagements pretty much nearly 90% were on the plastic treaty work. It was an interesting learning experience with good information to take home as a first-time participant in AMCEN meetings.
Key highlights from the meeting included declarations, decisions and key messages adopted by the session notably the decision 19/2 African participation in the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, which relates directly to our work and a declaration to appreciate the work of the African Group of Negotiators on plastics, and urged member states to support the African position on the establishment of a legally binding instrument.
By and large, the discussions were fruitful, with few contestations from some countries, especially on the issue of raw materials for plastics being considered as plastics. Also, there was a considerable representation from countries in the Global South. It’s important to mention that, going forward, the draft documents from this session can provide good information for our advocacy work as Civil Society organizations as we continue engaging with our National Focal Points within our various countries and ensure that the language and other key components that we desire to be in the Plastic treaty are well captured.