The Independent (Banjul)

10 June 2002

Gambia: UNDP Resident Rep. Calls for Environmental Consciousness

Banjul — The UNDP Resident Representative has expressed an overriding need to rekindle efforts with a view to integrating environmental issues into the development process.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a four-day sensitization workshop on 'Sustainable Development and Multi-lateral Environmental Agreement' at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, as part of activities commemorating World Environment Day. Dr. John O. Kakonge said ten years after Rio Summit, it is an opportune moment to take stock of our achievements and failures not only to improve on future performance but also prepare for the World Summit for Sustainable Development slated for August in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He remarked that a successful implementation of Agenda 21 presupposes a simultaneous move on all fronts by all actors, including women, farmers, youths, civil society and scientists. He said such efforts has to take account of the daunting environmental challenges, including deforestation, soil erosion, the poaching of animals, overgrazing and the concomitant loss of bio diversity.

Highlighting some areas of importance in the implementation of Agenda 21 (The development agenda of the world for the 21st century), Dr. Kakonge expressed the need to understand the relationship between Agenda 21 and the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), environmental awareness campaign, traditional environmental knowledge and the additional financial resources for its implementation.

In her keynote address, the Secretary of State for Natural Resources, Fisheries and the Environment, Susan Waffa Ogon, said the National Environment Management Act (NEMA) was enacted in 1994 to control and manage environmental issues, which makes it a duty of every Gambian to maintain a descent environment. She said the Rio Summit had helped trigger the world community to take cognizance of the fact that sustainable management of natural resources is a key to poverty reduction.

According to her, The Gambia Environment Action Plan (GEAP) was adopted in 1992 and it forms the main policy framework for environmental planning and decision making.

The workshop was organised by The Government of The Gambia, The UNDP and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The recommendation manating from the workshop will constitute an essential imput into the country paper, which will be presented in Johannesburg.

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