Press Review CW 10/2024: Striving for progress
Press Review 1 March 2024 to 7 March 2024

6th UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi adopts 15 resolutions

The 6th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) ended on Friday in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Under the motto “Effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution” and chaired by Leila Benali, Morocco’s Minister for Energy Transition and this year’s President of the Assembly, around 7,000 representatives from 182 countries, including 170 ministers, took part. The importance of multilateral agreements to secure a sustainable future was repeatedly emphasised in the talks and negotiations. In her opening speech, Benali also called for close and inclusive cooperation in tackling the climate crisis. Of the 19 resolutions put to the vote, 15 were adopted, including on the topics of combating global air pollution, restoring degraded soils and protecting the oceans from the effects of climate change. African countries such as Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular supported a resolution that provides for the fair distribution of profits from the extraction of minerals and metals that are necessary for the energy transition. The aim is to ensure that resource-rich countries and their economies and populations benefit from the wealth of raw materials by organising the extraction, processing and use of minerals such as cobalt and lithium in a sustainable manner – unlike is often the case with the extraction of fossil fuels, for example. The adoption of the resolution was described by African delegates as an important success for the continent. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, who represented Germany at the negotiations, was also pleased with the UNEA and the outcomes. Not only was significant progress made in the protection of global water resources, but the resolution on better management of hazardous chemicals and chemical waste, with which the Global Framework for Chemicals adopted in Bonn in September 2023 under the German Presidency was officially recognised by UNEA-6, was also an important decision, said the Minister. However, the resolution on Solar Radiation Modification technology (SRM) was not adopted. SRM creates a shield between the earth and the sun to reflect the sun’s rays back into space and thus cool the planet. Opposition came from African countries in particular, who pointed to a lack of scientific data and a gap in knowledge between the Global North and South. It was also criticised that SRM does not tackle the causes of climate change. The commitment of the member states to a global climate policy was reaffirmed on Friday in a joint ministerial declaration. The aim is to work together to slow down climate change, restore and protect biodiversity, end pollution and tackle other challenges such as desertification, land degradation, drought and deforestation through effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral action. The adopted resolutions now serve as guidelines for the further work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under director Inger Angersen and must be implemented by the member states. Progress will be reviewed at UNEA-7, which will take place from 8 to 12 December 2025 under the leadership of Abdullah Bin Ali Amri, the newly elected UNEA President and Chairman of the Environment Authority of Oman. The work programme and budget for the upcoming assembly were also approved on Friday through two resolutions. The UNEA is the highest decision-making body for global environmental policy and traditionally takes place in Nairobi. Kenya, which also chaired the first African climate summit last autumn, at which the so-called Nairobi Declaration, which has since been used as a reference for a common African climate position, was adopted, is regarded worldwide as a pioneer in climate protection.

 

Svenja Schulze is travelling to Burkina Faso and Benin for four days

On Monday, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze set off on a four-day trip to the West African countries of Burkina Faso and Benin together with World Bank Vice President Ousame Diagana. Together with Diagana, Schulze held political talks with the transitional government and other ministers in Burkina Faso on Monday and Tuesday. A meeting was also planned with Ibrahim Traoré, the transitional president in office since October 2022, who announced his withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) together with Mali and Niger at the end of January. Possible consequences and implications of the withdrawal should be discussed. Burkina Faso also continues to feel threatened by jihadist terror. In recent weeks, there has been an increase in attacks on civilians and security forces. The government can now only control half of the country’s territory. On this occasion, an exchange took place on projects and preventive measures of the Sahel Alliance against terror in the region. In view of the growing Russian influence in the region and the associated risk of increasing destabilisation, Schulze accused President Wladimir Putin at a press conference with Burkinabe Foreign Minister Karamoko Jean Marie Traoré of using disinformation as a means of asserting his interests. The promotion of media competence and serious journalism in countries that suffer particularly from Russian disinformation was therefore a particular concern for Schulze. In this context, the Minister also visited a Deutsche Welle Akademie project that focuses on fact-based journalism and protection against disinformation. Schulze is the first European minister to travel to Burkina Faso since the military coup. Schulze’s visit to Burkina Faso was aimed at discussing opportunities for development cooperation at a time when, due to the coup, there is no direct bilateral development cooperation with the Burkinabe government, and also to present the Sahel Alliance as a partner in the region that is willing to engage in dialogue. Since yesterday, Wednesday, Schulze and Diagana have been visiting the West African coastal state of Benin, where they will meet with President Patrice Talon and Finance Minister Romuald Wadagani, among others, until their departure today. There will also be an exchange with organisations from the north of Benin. The focus will be on combating terrorism from neighbouring countries and the question of how Benin can be protected from a possible “spill-over” and the spread of terrorist violence by creating jobs. Schulze wants to use her trip to Burkina Faso and Benin to promote a dialogue between Germany and the Sahel Alliance, which she has chaired since July last year. Meanwhile, Schulze is not the only representative of the German government travelling to Africa this week. On Monday, Minister of State Katja Keul concluded her four-day visit to Tanzania, where she met representatives of German-Tanzanian cooperation projects in the fields of research, health, cultural preservation and town twinning. The focus of her third trip to Tanzania was the anniversary of the execution of the Chagga leader Mangi Meli and 18 other chiefs by German colonial troops on 2 March 1900. Keul set herself the goal of deepening exchange and bilateral relations in order to discuss joint ways of coming to terms with the German colonial past in the East African state.

 

In other news

On Friday, International Women’s Day, a women-led television programme will be launched in Somalia for the first time. It will deal with otherwise taboo topics such as the obstacles to women’s political careers. The programme, which will be hosted by Naima Said Salah and broadcast monthly, will guarantee a minimum of 50% female guests and is based on the format of the well-known BBC programme Question Time, in which reporters travel around the country and invite people to take part in the discussion on the programme. The pilot episode of the Somali discussion programme, which addressed the lack of information about women’s periods in Somali schools, was broadcast in December last year and met with a very positive response. The programme is produced by Bilan, the only media team in the country made up entirely of women. Bilan was launched in 2022 with the support of the UN Development Programme and is now also funded by the EU.

 

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