African states co-operate to protect marine environment

On-going efforts to help solve Africa's environment and development problems received a boost last week as African countries agreed on the way forward for a more integrated and co-ordinated approach to deal with critical marine and coastal issues.

At the end of a five-day meeting on 4 December in Cape Town, South Africa, African ministers adopted the “Cape Town Declaration on an African Process for the Development and Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment.”

The document reflects the fact that the coastal and marine environment is as an essential resource for long-term sustainable development in Africa, and that African countries must work together in order to tackle regional issues like marine pollution.

Seen as part of a wider process to prevent fragmentation of Africa’s environment and development efforts, the Declaration requests the Organisation of African Unity to consult with appropriate regional institutions, (like AMCEN, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment), on how best to harmonise relevant current initiatives on the continent.

The Declaration also builds on the achievement of the Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management (PACSICOM), held in Maputo, Mozambique from 18 to 24 July 1998.

In this regard, the scene has been set for a “Partnership Conference” in the year 2000. This proposed conference will represent a new form of donor/recipient co-operation based on common concerns and shared responsibilities for the management of the coastal and marine environment in Africa. A detailed list of common African priorities, actions and costed project proposals will be submitted to donors, UN agencies, non- governmental organisations, the private sector and others, in a co-ordinated manner.

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