African ministers gather in Egypt to tackle climate change
Last Updated: 2015-03-05 07:52 | Xinhua
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Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb delivers a speech on the 15th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) held in Cairo, Egypt, on March 4, 2015. Cairo is currently hosting the AMCEN from March 2 to 6, attended by senior environment officials and prominent experts of some 50 states. (Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue)

African ministers and experts of over 50 states gathered in Cairo Wednesday to discuss the environmental challenges facing the continent topped by climate change.

The session, as part of the activities of the 15th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), was attended by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and chairman of the 15th session Egyptian Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy as Egypt is taking over presidency of the AMCEN that was first held in Cairo 30 years ago.

"We all stand today at an extremely critical time in terms of the responsibilities we shoulder as policy-makers, the top of which is to set a united African vision and a new international agreement on climate change by the end of the year," Mahlab told the attendees ahead of the opening of the ministerial meeting.

Recent studies conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) showed that climate adaptation could cost Africa up to 50 billion U.S. dollars annually by mid-century.

The AMCEN comes a few months ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, scheduled to be held in Paris late this year, where the African states hope to get their development and climate change priorities articulated and reflected in the context of global negotiations.

"Africa has gathered here in order to discuss a common position in relation to the climate summit in December 2015. We would like to go prepared with a position that will ensure Africa as the victim of climate change is compensated," South Sudan's Environment Minister Deng Deng Hoc Yai told Xinhua on the sidelines of the conference.

Noting that climate change is primarily caused by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, the South Sudanese minister called for a legally-binding agreement to reduces greenhouse gases and to ensure sustainable developments.

Belete Tafere, Ethiopian Minister of Environment and Forests said Africa is very vulnerable to the climate change problems that the world is facing today and that it is important for African states to discuss their common problem at the same table.

"Over the past four or five years, Africa has chosen to bring its voices together present its problems and interests in the global arena," the minister told Xinhua, noting that climate change and biodiversity have become worldwide concerns, stressing the need for issuing an agreed international legislation in this regard.

The 15th th AMCEN, held from Monday to Friday, also discusses relevant issues including sustainable development, food safety, water quality, natural resources and energy in Africa, while looking for a combination of internal mechanisms supported by international cooperation to combat environmental problems.

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