8 July 2002

Africa: UN Report Urges Africa to Protect the Environment

Pretoria — A groundbreaking report has called on Africa to take urgent action to save its environment and create a path for sustainable development.

The African Environment Outlook (AEO) report, released by the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Thursday, observed that unless urgent action was taken to deliver environmentally-friendly development to millions of Africans, there would be sharp increases in air and water pollution, land degradation, droughts and wildlife losses facing the continent.

Such action should, it said, include deeper cuts in the continent's debts burden, a boost in overseas aid, empowering local communities, enforcing environemental agreements and introducing 'green and clean' technologies.

Titled 'Hard Facts, Tough Choices, 30 Years,' the report calls for a grated effort by countries both within and outside Africa to the steer the continent on a prosperous, environmentally sustainable course.

The report said rapid population growth, wars and high levels of national debt, disasters and disease have all taken their toll on the people and the rich natural environment of Africa in the past thirty years.

It warned that over the coming three decades new and emerging threats such as climate change, the unchecked spread of alien, introduced species, uncontrolled expansion of cities and pollution from cars and industry, were likely to aggravate levels of poverty, environmental decline and ill-health.

The report was issued to coincide with the two-day African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), which ended on Friday in Uganda, Kampala.

Mr Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP said the report 'is pioneering assessment of the state of Africa's environment and will be invaluable for governments on the continent and across the world in prioritising efforts to achieve a new dawn for these lands.' 'It will also be a vital report for nations meeting at the World Summit on Sustainable Development later this year,' he said.

The WSSD will be held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September.

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