Malabo — Cameroon's First Lady Chantal Biya alongside the First Lady of Equatorial Guinea, Constancia Mangue de Obiang and that of Djibouti, Khadra Haid yesterday December 13, joined their husbands at the Sipopo Conference Centre of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea to kick start discussions at the 7th Summit for African, Caribbean and Pacific Heads of State and Government (ACP). The Summit is of particular importance to First Lady Chantal Biya as most of the issues of concern to the ACP leaders dwell on her daily activities such as fighting poverty, ensuring food security, climate change and rural development.
During the opening session of the summit, Chantal Biya for over two hours attentively listened to seven speakers who elaborated on the need to fight unemployment particularly amongst youths, ensure food security and rural development as well as fight against climate change while improving trade amongst ACP Members State in a bid to curb poverty. The Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr Kenny Anthony who is also the Prime Minister of St Lucia and the President of the African Union, Boni Yayi, also President of the Republic of Benin stressed on the need for security in ACP member States which is necessary for development in any sector.
Proposals on food security and rural development point to the fact that countries in the ACP Group could face significant challenges in the years to come as they try to step up economic growth, deal with an increasingly integrated world market and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially those focusing on hunger and poverty. These efforts, officials said will take place in the face of declining external assistance and many competing demands on resources. As such, speakers at the Malabo Summit stressed that agriculture and rural development and economic activities are essential for growth, poverty reduction and food security especially for the poorer countries of the ACP Group. In spite of efforts, ACP countries still lag behind when it comes to free-trade that need to be ameliorated to ensure food security in some of the developing countries within the organisation. In handling these challenges, the Caribbean Community pledged to work hand-in-glove with Africa.
The horrendous effects of climate change could not be over-emphasised. The Chairman of the Forum of Pacific Islands, Henry Puna, who also doubles as Prime Minister of Cook Islands recognised that climate change is not only a serious threat to the achievement of sustainable development but to the very survival of many ACP member states with its adverse effects amongst which are sea-level rise, storm surge, floods, droughts, coastal erosion, extreme weather events, melting of mountain glaciers and changing precipitation patterns. Within this backdrop, ACP members see the urgent need to address the issues. While acknowledging the link between climate change, sustainable development and poverty eradication, ACP Group supported a temperature increase of no more than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and the importance of identifying a global goal for substantially reducing global emissions by 2050. ACP member states agreed to significantly reduce emission of greenhouse gases which continue to rise globally at an alarming rate.