Past, present and future perspectives



Environment and development
  • Development of national strategies for sustainable development (NSSDs), and in some cases National Conservation Strategies (NCSs).
  • Translation of the global Agenda 21 into National Agenda 21s and Local Agenda 21s.
  • Establishment of fully fledged ministries of environment and environmental protection authorities or agencies.
  • Improvements in sub-regional and regional coordination of environmental management.
  • Preparation of poverty reduction strategy papers and poverty eradication action plans.
  • Formulation of sustainable livelihood strategies.
  • Promotion of south-south and intra-Africa trade.
  • Lobbying for greater access to developed country markets and, in general, removal of trade barriers.
  • Modernization of agriculture.
Climate variability
  • The majority of states are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
  • Several countries have produced National Action Plans in accordance with UNFCCC.
  • Establishment of Early Warning Systems.
  • Establishment of food reserve programmes.
  • Crop research to identify drought resistant varieties.
  • Improving housing design and construction.
  • Urban planning to reduce vulnerability of human populations.
Climate change
  • Ratification of UNFCCC, and the Kyoto Protocol..
  • Undertaking of Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJs) projects through joint ventures with the private sector of developed countries.
  • Development of National Communication Strategies to provide detailed inventories of emissions and sinks, and programmes to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Exploration of options for further exploitation of alternative sources of energy (e.g. solar, wind, micro-hydro, and biomass), particularly by countries of Northern and Southern Africa.
Air pollution
  • Establishment of air quality standards and guidelines.
  • Monitoring of ambient air quality.
  • Operations of the Air Pollution Impact Network for Africa (ALPINA), a network of scientists, policy makers and NGOs established to provide information on air pollution, methodologies and databases, and to bridge the gap between information and policy making.
  • Upgrading public transport systems, imposition of age limits for private and commercial vehicles, and the provision of subsidies for switching to unleaded fuels.
  • Preparations of plans for adoption of cleaner technologies to reduce industrial emissions.
Land degradation
  • Formulation of land use policies and plans, including zoning.
  • Land reform (e.g. land redistribution and resettlement).
  • Capacity building.
  • Development of environmental management programmes (district, national environment action plans).
  • Promotion of community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) projects.
  • Development of erosion hazard mapping.
  • Regional initiatives for the conservation and utilization of soils, e.g. Southern African Regional Commission for the Conservation and Utilization of the Soil (SARCCUS).
  • Regional initiatives to combat desertification (SADC, Sub-Regional Action Programme).
  • Reducing the rate of growth of the human population.
  • Environmental education programmes.
  • Promotion of private sector involvement in land management issues.
  • Universal primary education.
  • Plans for modernization of agriculture.
  • Ratification of a large number of international conventions.
  • Irrigation.
Habitat loss
  • Increase in the number and extent of protected areas.
  • Ratification of conventions related to biodiversity, (CBD) in particular, and RAMSAR and CITES.
  • Promoting community based natural resource management programmes (CBNRM).
  • Development of national environmental action plans and conservation strategies.
  • Promotion of sub-regional cooperation in conservation.
  • Formulation of natural biodiversity strategy and action plan (NBSAP).
Species loss
  • Ratification of conventions related to biodiversity, CBD in particular, but also RAMSAR and CITES.
  • Species re-introduction.
  • Ex-situ plant propagation in nurseries.

Alien invasive species

Inadequate attention to indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights

  • Tightening controls on imports and spraying of aircraft (and in some cases disinfecting of passengers too).
  • Gene banking (Southern Africa).
  • Reform of policies to assign intellectual property rights to certain countries, communities or individuals.
  • Establishment of resource centres across Africa that focus on identification and dissemination of indigenous or traditional knowledge and practices.
  • Using indigenous knowledge in the treatment of HIV/AIDS (Tanzania).
  • Improving forest harvesting sustainability through removal of subsidies for commercial logging and privatization of state-owned forests.
  • Ensuring greater stakeholder participation in forest management through, amongst other things, partnerships between state or private and local communities.
  • Use of technologies such as remote sensing and geographic information systems to provide more accurate information.
  • Formation of the ATO whose member states collectively control over 80 per cent of Africa's natural forests.
  • Development of implementing and indicator programmes through the Dry Zone Africa Process (Southern African States).
  • Having some forest area certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (Southern African States).
  • Including forests in wildlife protected areas such as national parks to accord them greater conservation status.
  • Proposal for a consortium approach to ease access to funding (African Development Bank).
Limited access to water resources
  • The United Nations International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1980-90).
  • Africa 2000 Initiative of 1994, by the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Africa Regional Office.
  • Construction of dams on almost all major rivers in Africa to provide water storage capacities, hydro-electric power, and to supply domestic, industrial and agricultural users. There are more than 1 200 dams in Africa.
  • Revision of water policies and pricing mechanisms, as measures to manage demand and encourage more conservative water use.
  • Recycling of wastewater as irrigation water, and upgrading of reticulation networks.
  • Increasing favour for integrated water resource management (IWRM) in several countries.
  • Public-private partnerships in water resource management and water supply programmes.
  • Establishment of international agreements and protocols, either as proactive measures or in response to escalating conflict over shared water courses (e.g. The Nile Basin Initiative, the Regional Programme for the Sustainable Development of the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, and the SADC Protocol on Shared Water Courses).
Poor water quality
  • Development of wetlands policies and/or conservation strategies (e.g. Ghana, South Africa and Uganda).
  • Establishment and enforcement of effluent water standards.
  • Rehabilitation of existing wastewater treatment facilities as measures to control water quality.
  • Incorporation of the polluter pays principle in many policies and legislation.
  • Schemes for improving drainage, purification and decontamination of freshwater systems, and public awareness campaigns.
Coastal erosion
  • Declaration of marine protected areas (MPAs).
  • Integrated environmental management, particularly integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).
  • Promulgation of laws and regulations requiring environmental impact studies to be carried out before development proceeds in the coastal zone or hinterland.
  • Sub-regional and regional agreements.
  • Ratification of several international conventions aimed at enhancing conservation of natural resources.
  • Support for capacity building and access to financial resources.
Marine and coastal pollution
  • Ratification of international agreements such as the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern African Region (Nairobi Convention), and the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region (Abidjan Convention).
  • Participation in UNEP's Regional Seas Programme.
  • Public health legislation.
  • Clearing of coastal areas.
  • Various management measures including minimum net size limits, bag limits, use of appropriate fishing gear, and closed seasons.
  • International agreements between African countries, and between African and European or other international fisheries (the United Nations Law of the Sea).
Sea level rise
  • Construction of groynes, sea walls and other physical barriers.
  • Signing of the Convention for Cooperation in Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region (Abidjan Convention).
Poor urban conditions
  • Increased production of low-cost housing stocks, and introducing housing subsidies for low-income groups.
  • Creation of the United Nations Commission for Human Settlements (Habitat) and Local Agenda 21.
  • Revision or formation of constitutions and national legislation to promote the right to adequate shelter.
  • Revision of policies to recognize women's rights to own property.
  • Land reform.
  • Formulation of environmental policies.
  • Development of integrated water policies and waste management strategies.
  • Privatization of municipal services in an effort to improve coverage and maintenance.
  • Development of effluent standards and tighter controls on waste management.
  • Housing programmes, subsidies for low income families, poverty alleviation programmes, and decentralization strategies.
  • Attainment of international best practices and awards (Angola and Sudan).
  • Establishment of ministries (departments) responsible for disaster preparedness, prevention and management.
  • Formulation of policies and action plans for disaster prevention and management.
  • Formulation and implementation of poverty reduction strategies.
  • Establishment of early warning systems.
  • Land use planning.
Future outlook
  • Preparation of long-term perspectives, strategic framework for national development (National Vision 2025).
  • Preparation of poverty reduction strategies, based on national Vision 2025s.
  • In some cases (e.g. Uganda), preparation of development plans for lower levels government in conformity with the national poverty eradication action plans.