NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A new dawn is here. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD) has been renamed the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).
The rationale behind the establishment of the African Union Development Agency is to ensure that it acts as a vehicle for the better execution of the African Union Agenda 2063, a 50 year common continental strategic framework to promote inclusive growth and support sustainable development by the year 2063.
“The transformation from NEPAD Agency to AUDA-NEPAD will be showcased from the start, in the difference we will be making through our new mandate…We embrace this transformation and I have full confidence that we are all ready for the task at hand,” says Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, AUDA-NEPAD Agency CEO.
With a renewed mandate to coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063,the Agency is not losing sight of the importance of sustainable environmental management and optimum utilisation of natural resources as a central pillar for Africa’s economic transformation.
“Since its creation, we have constantly integrated into each of our programmes, the sustainability and protection of our biodiversity. Since October 2001, with the launch of the Environment Initiative, mechanisms have been put in place to combat global warming, such as combating land degradation, wetland conservation, the sustainable conservation and use of marine and coastal resources, and the cross-border conservation and management of natural resources,” explains Dr. Mayaki.
As Dr. Mayaki puts it, the NEPAD’s founding framework and Environment Action Plan clearly recognisesa sustainable environment as a pre-requisite to achieving the continent’s overall goal of sustainable growth and development. It is worth noting therefore that this design is largely driven by the fact that African countries’ economies are agrarian in nature, heavily relying on natural resources sensitive sectors for growth.
As part of its core mandate, the AUDA-NEPAD contributes to strengthening the ability of member States and Regional Economic Communities to integrate climate change and sustainable development responses into national development processes. It has also been key in the provision of capacity building, financial and technical support in the areas of adaptation, technology development and finance; and their inter-linkages.
Concerning natural resources management, the Agency has been instrumental in promoting adaptive management, participatory decision making and sustainable financing through funds for ecosystems services management including tourism development and management.
One example of such initiatives is the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) which responds to the African Union mandate to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2030, as expressed in the political declaration endorsed by the Africa Union in October 2015 for the creation of the umbrella Africa Resilient Landscapes Initiative (ARLI).
It complements the African Landscapes Action Plan (ALAP) and the broader Climate Change, Biodiversity and Land Degradation (LDBA) programme of the African Union. AFR100 contributes to the achievement of domestic restoration and sustainable development commitments, among many other targets.
The initiative directly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It builds on the experience and progress achieved through the TerrAfrica Partnership and related landscape restoration efforts.
Thus, at a recent Brand Awareness Drive in Nairboi, Kenya, the media were urged to popularize such positive milestones as NEPAD rebrands to the first ever African Union Development Agency.
This, it was highlighted should be done through not only highlighting its key focus areas but also how national governments and institutions should link themselves to the overall aspirations of ‘Agenda 2063:The Africa We Want.’
“This is the first ever African Union Development Agency,” said Mwanja Ng’anjo, AUDA-NEPAD Head of Communications. “As African media, we should be excited about this development for this is our own initiative as Africans. But most importantly, we should not leave the ordinary people behind as AUDA-NEPAD is mandated by the African Union Commission to deliver on Africa’s development aspirations. I do firmly believe that everyone has a role to play in building ‘The Africa We Want.’ We are here to learn from you as media on how we can together take forward Africa’s agenda by setting a positive development narrative for the continent.”
In outlining the key focus areas of AUDA-NEPAD, Martin Bwalya, Head of Industrialization, emphasized the importance of sustainable environmental management and natural resources governance as a central pillar for the continent’s development aspirations.
“Our key focus areas are strengthened Institutions and Human Capital, Industrialisation, Economic Integration and last but not the least, Natural Resources Governance and Environmental Sustainability,” saidMr. Bwalya. “In fact, we consider sustainable environmental governance as a foundation because we cannot talk of industrialisation without optimum utilisation of our natural resources as a continent; similarly economic growth cannot happen in vacuum without sustainable environmental management. It is not a secret that we are well endowed with plenty natural resources but key is how we manage these resources in a balancing act to keep sustaining usin our quest to achieve our aspirations as espoused in agenda 2063.”
While these efforts are aimed at providing African Union Member States with innovative development and implementation capacities for viable natural resources management, there is a caveat that desired impact would only come about through strengthened linkages with national institutions.
“Inclusive growth and sustainable development cannot be achieved in a vacuum, therefore, operating at national, regional and continental levels, the clear value is not necessarily staying in there but linking it to where it maters the most, impact oriented results for the people at national level,” noted Mr. Bwalya.
And the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the country’s principal regulator of the environment, agrees with the importance of linking national institutions to continental aspirations, especially on sustainable environmental management and natural resources governance.
“We believe the environmentis a shared resource and therefore its management should also be a shared responsibility,” says Irene Lungu Chipili, ZEMA Manager, Corporate Affairs. “We have so much in common as Africans and similarly, we have a lot of trans-boundary natural resources which require responsible management. Thus, linking national institutions to the larger mandate of the African Union and its development Agency broadens our perspectives and opens up opportunities for collaboration across borders to sustainably manage our natural resources and the environment.”
Amidst heightened impacts of climate change and with a focus on strengthening agriculture, fostering food and nutrition security,improving environmental governance, as well as facilitating the adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, AUDA-NEPAD CEO, Dr Mayaki believes theintegrated approach that the Agency has takenagainst global warming, is key.
“The latest United Nations Climate Summit highlighted the differences in approach between polluting countries, major industrial powers and countries suffering the consequences, particularly those in Africa. AUDA-NEPAD, in its DNA, has this environmental dimension,” says Dr. Mayaki.
“We are passionately committed to the protection of biodiversity, the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, water security and renewable energies. In concrete terms, by 2023, the proportion of land used in an eco-sustainable manner must reach at least 30% of the total. Trans-boundary natural resources will now have to be integrated as natural capital in the negotiations. Water security requires better management of rainwater and irrigation, including the promotion of the use of recycled wastewater for agricultural or industrial purposes. In addition, we will support all actions to reduce the share of fossil fuels in total energy production to minus 20% and to increase the share of renewable energies in total energy production by at least 10%.”
This illustration of the objectives to be achieved by 2023 shows the African Union’s commitment to building environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient economies and communities, as called for in Goal 7 of Agenda 2063.
AUDA-NEPAD thus requires national governments and institutional support in its efforts to advance knowledge-based advisory support, undertake the full range of resource mobilisation, and serve as the continent’s technical interface with all Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners.