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China-Africa Center to address environmental issues

By Lucie Morangi | | Updated: 2018-08-20 04:03
The inaguration of the interim secretariat for the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center based in Kenya, Nairobi. Liu Hongjie/China Daily

China and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has inaugurated an interim secretariat to oversee the setup of an environmental cooperation center in Nairobi, Kenya.

The center, to be based at UNEP headquarters in Kenya, is expected to be a platform where green practices are promoted and the partnership between China and African countries, private sectors, research institutions and intergovernmental organizations are strengthened.

It also will provide tailored services to support member countries to achieve the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda and the African Union's 2063 Agenda.

The ambassador of China to Kenya, Sun Baohong, at the launch ceremony of the interim secretariat for the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center. Liu Hongjie/ China Daily

The agreement set up the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center was made during the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg in 2015.

While acknowledging a contribution of $1 million for the operation of the center, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya Sun Baohong said severe environmental challenges such as pollution, climate change, ecological deterioration and environmental governance is playing an increasingly essential role in global agenda.

"The center will focus on South-South cooperation on environmental issues and adhere to principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. In our vision, the center will serve as a hub for environmental policy interaction and dialogue; a stimulator for environmental industry, information exchange and technical cooperation; a platform for environmental personnel training and capacity-building and a catalyst for environmental project proposals and implementation."

She added that the center will serve as an open, transparent and inclusive platform for all interested member states, international institutes and private sectors.

Sun said the center would inform and drive the development of green sustainable projects along the Belt and Road Initiative. Proposed by President Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road covers at least 65 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, 63 percent of the world population and about 30 percent of global GDP.

"I think it will help in the harmonization of policies in different countries, which will guide the development of mega infrastructures and align to global conservation goals," she said.

Joyce Msuya, the deputy executive director of UNEP, said that China and Africa have recognized the need for partnership under South-South Cooperation. She added that China has many lessons to be learned from its efforts in environmental conservation through the Building a Beautiful China initiative that has transformed the country.

"The success of this center, therefore, would be through transparency, inclusiveness and effectiveness," said Msuya.

The dean of Africa's diplomatic corps in Kenya, Beyene Russom, the ambassador of Eritrea, said Africa needs support and cooperation to meet the global sustainable goals. "It is time that as developing countries, we become the drivers of projects that are aligned to our goals. We should be in the lead."

Also present was Tom Omollo, the political and diplomatic secretary at Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs who said that there are a lot of lessons to be learned from China.

"China has successfully addressed pollution, and we do not need to reinvent the wheel. We need to build avenues that promote exchange of technology," Omollo said, noting the relevance of UNEP in an increasingly changing environment. "It is important to note that China continues to promote the multilateral diplomatic system."

The interim secretariat will be made up of a small team from the UNEP and will consult widely with China and African countries to establish the key objectives of the center, the institutional structure and an initial work plan to promote the envisioned cooperation.

The formal announcement of the establishment of the center will be made by leaders of China and African countries during the FOCAC summit scheduled for next week in Beijing.

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