Hundreds attend Africa Day celebrations in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, June 20, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Hundreds of people today attended different activities to mark Africa Day events organized on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio to reflect on the continent’s priorities and chart course for post-Rio action plans.
According to the Congolese Minister for Sustainable Development, Mr. Henri Djombo, the fact that all the key activities for the Day registered high attendance was a real cause for satisfaction.
The Information and Communication Service (ICS) of ECA reports that Africa Day activities were competing with not less than 500 other side events on the Conference schedule.
Presided over by the Mr. Djombo, the Day’s activities culminated in a high-level segment under the overall theme of the event, “Accelerating Progress Towards Sustainable Development in Africa.”
Speaking on behalf of President Denis Sassou N’Guesso of the Republic of Congo and Africa’ s Spokesperson and Political Coordinator for the Rio+20 process, Mr. Djombo called on industrialized countries to honour their commitments vis-a-vis sustainable development goals.
He said that non compliance with the commitments was the principal logjam on the global move towards a more sustainable exploitation of the worlds’s diminishing natural resources.
He called on African countries to embark on a large scale information campaigns to improve the level of understanding on sustainable development at the local level, affirming that insufficient knowledge of the concepts was still a clear hindrance to its implementation at community level.
He also harped on the need for conscientious efforts to be made to fully integrate the principles of good governance from the highest echelon of the government to the smallest unit of the administrative structure.
Mr. Abdouille Janneh, the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, told participants that Africa would need to strengthen its own house through the implementation of deliberate policies that are based on the principles of good governance.
Mr. Janneh’s presence at the discussion was hailed as part of his untiring effort to promote partnerships for Africa’s economic and social integration.
Janneh is widely known and appreciated for his stewardship at the helm of ECA, that leaders credit, in part, for the focused and concerted views that Africa now has on the global stage.
In a statement by Mr. Jean Ping, the African Union Chairperson, read by the Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ms Rhoda Peace Tumusiimie, the Chairperson recalled how African countries had struggled to meet their own commitments for sustainable development and made an ardent call for more collaboration from other partners.
“Africa’s expectations from this Conference is for all nations to show leadership to make Rio+20 a conference of decisive impact and ambition. We live in a world of economic uncertainty, growing inequality and environmental decline”, he said, calling for agreement on sustainable development goals, accompanied by measurable means of implementation.
Quoting Rev. Desmond Tutu, South African Nobel Laureate, on the need to exploit natural resources in a more sustainable manner, Ms Tumusiimie said that partners in Rio should remember that “the world was not given to us by our parent; it was lent to us by our children.”
There was also a statement from South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms B.E.E. Molewa, in which she urged the Conference to promote the adoption of policies that integrate “the true environmental costs of production and consumption into accounting models, in order to address the cause rather than the symptoms of environmental and natural resource degradation and depletion.”
She alluded to last year’s COP17 in Durban, South Africa and said that “faced with the real threat of climate change impacts, sustainable development has become more significant today than ever before… And we must acknowledge that we still have more challenges of poverty and unemployment, especially among women and youth”.
All these can be directly linked to the unsustainable policies of the past, she added.
Other participants were the USG in charge of the Office of the Special Assistant for Africa, European Union, Mr. Goumandakoye, UNEP Regional Office for Africa, and Mr. Eugene Owusu, UNDP Resident Coordinator for Ethiopia.
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)