(Source: Mohamed-Katerere 2001)
Throughout much of Africa, the interlinkages between institutions and within governance processes are poorly developed. Developing an interlinkages approach can improve opportunities for more effective regional cooperation, inclusive policies, improved regional-national synergies, and stronger and more sustainable partnerships.
International law and policy, at both the global and regional levels, identifies motivations as well as an overall framework for developing institutional interlinkages, as set out in Box 1. These international law principles help to address problems of unequal power between countries.
One major and crosscutting challenge for developing institutional linkages is the lack of harmonization of environmental management approaches. Legal systems in Africa are closely linked to their colonial past, with different countries having English, French or Portuguese legal systems. More specifically, in terms of environment, common approaches have not been developed across nations. Regional initiatives, such as the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ACCNNR), set a clear basis for the harmonization of such legal and policy frameworks at the sub-regional level.
Governance regimes impact on environmental management and change, in multiple ways and at different scales, across all environmental sectors.
- First, environmental governance – and decentralization and devolution of power – affects the opportunities local users have in managing environmental resources and in particular their ability to manage natural resources as productive assets.
- Second, political governance, and in particular how power is shared between the centre and the local, is particularly important. For example, poor governance, within inadequate levels of transparency and accountability, often results in managerial systems that are vulnerable to corruption and conflict. Conflict has multiple ramifications for economic development and trade, environmental sustainability and human well-being. Africa has suffered more than 30 wars since the 1970s. According to the World Bank, in 2005 about one-fifth of Africa’s people lived in countries affected by conflict and for the average African country, half of the indicators point to a risk of conflict. The poorest counties have the highest risk of new conflicts. Chapter 12: Environment for Peace and Regional Cooperation highlights the interconnectedness of conflict with the loss of biodiversity, the overharvesting of ecosystems goods and services, the spread of illegal trade in natural assets and population displacement. These are all detrimental to ecosystems health and productivity. Good governance is critical for resolving conflict and building peace, mitigating its ill effects and avoiding conflict.
- Third, governance in non-environmental areas, such as trade, is also of direct significance. Corporate and trade-related governance may have important implications for environmental change. While a weak regulatory system might be attractive from an investment perspective, it can have disastrous environmental and social costs. Emeseh (2004), for example, suggests that the lack of or weak enforcement of environmental regulations in Nigeria is designed to protect international oil companies. Companies engaged in extracting timber from Liberia, diamonds from Angola and Rwanda, coltan from Rwanda, and gold from Uganda are all sheltered from environmental regulation enforcement, creating both human and environmental costs. Similarly, the dumping of hazardous wastes in Africa has been a major problem, especially during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, and has left many parts of Africa faced with the problems of stockpiles. International agreements, such as the Bamako Convention, which seek to regulate this, have not been fully incorporated into national legislation.
Building effective regional organization
(Source: Government of Rwanda)
(Source: Roberts 2004)
Interlinkages between and among institutional structures dealing with environmental management and policy and those from other institutions whose area of mandate has a relationship to the environment, such as trade and health, remain weak and need to be redressed if development challenges are to be effectively addressed.
At the national level, management and governance systems are based on different sectors. The World Resources Institute (WRI) suggests that sectoral approaches to environmental management and governance at the international level mirror patterns at the national level and this remains true for Africa.
Boxes 2 and 3 show, in relation to health issues, that responding effectively to challenges may require interventions in different sectors. In order to achieve this, mechanisms not just for coordinating response but also for coordinating problem analysis are needed. One challenge is to achieve this without overstretching the capacity of institutions that are already under considerable financial and human resource strain. Options include developing multilevel, inter-sectoral and inter-state strategies that cut across institutions and, at an early stage, developing deliberative and inclusive policy-making processes. These should be complemented by processes that review and refine policy, in order to support adaptive management.
(Source: WHO 2006)
At the regional level, the main institutional responses have been sectoral. The main regional and sub-regional institutional development has been the creation of economic groups which cluster countries around common issues and specifically around economic and social development. These organizations have focused primarily on economic cooperation and trade, with less attention paid to environmental issues. The Commission for Africa (2005) reports that trade among Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries grew by 15 per cent, from US$4,500 million in 2002 to US$5,300 million in 2003. These organizations have therefore been effective in increasing trade integration among their members. As more integrated approaches to development have emerged that focus on the links between environment, development and human well-being, these organizations have developed a broader range of interests. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), for example, has been instrumental in the development of collaborative approaches to watercourses, forests and wildlife – although the interlinkages between these issues and their relation to other issues remain relatively weak. The role of these institutions in promoting environmental collaboration is discussed in The human dimension of development in Africa. Environment for Peace and Regional Cooperation in Africa considers the value of inter-state collaboration on environmental issues. The challenge now lies in taking this a step further and for these economic commissions to become effective vehicles for ensuring the integration of environment into the development process.
The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) is an Africa-wide body for environmental policy development and environmental governance. It can, as discussed in the Human dimension of development in Africa, be an important vehicle for improving environmental cooperation, although it still faces various challenges in securing finance for the implementation of its programmes, the harmonization of regional and global environmental issues, and the full incorporation of these issues at the national and subregional levels, among many others.
A mechanism that fully addresses policy interlinkages at the regional level is yet to be developed. Given that decisions affecting the environment are most frequently taken outside “the environment sector,” such as trade and finance, a regular interface between AMCEN and other equivalent bodies at the regional level needs to be strengthened. Implementation of framework MEAs such as the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the ACCNNR requires multisectoral coordination and policy integration. Environment ministries and their entities, such an AMCEN, can face real challenges in such situations.
Inclusive policy processes
An added challenge for institutions is how to bring other actors into the policy-making process. The inclusion of civil and private sector groups and citizens into policy making, environmental management and decisionmaking processes can have positive effects.
Genetically modified crops in Africa considers how such an approach can contribute to policy that responds more effectively to national and local priorities and values. As discussed in The Human dimension of development in Africa, opportunities for greater involvement in decision making are being created at the regional and sub-regional levels. However, these have not been able to effectively take on these challenges.
Linking institutional responses from national to regional level
(Source: WWF 2005)
Regional organization faces the challenge of effectively linking national responses and policies with those at the regional level – linkages need to be developed not just between countries but also within countries. Certain kinds of regional cooperation, such as the management of transboundary parks and spatial development issues, require an interlinkages approach that brings together the relevant players across, and within, countries.
How is this to be achieved in an efficient and effective manner? Large organizations and committees that bring together all stakeholders are often cumbersome, ineffective and become overly bureaucratic. One approach is to systematically develop processes for harmonizing law at the sub-regional and regional level. In the SADC region this has been a key focus of environmental collaboration, which has developed several protocols to their founding treaty that establish an agreed approach in a given area. With this understanding, and clear and harmonized responses, the basis for partnerships and increased collaboration across sectors becomes easier. Law harmonization is a costly, intense and time-consuming process which requires extensive consultation and discussions at the national level that result in the clear identification of priority issues and the range of acceptable responses. A second option is to establish a process of regional engagement in which the different priority areas and responses are reconciled. This may require negotiation and mediation.
Evolving partnerships in natural resource-based management includes organizations for water, forests and wildlife. For example, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) brings together ten riparian countries to manage the entire basin of the Nile. Central African countries established the Congo Basin forest partnership to effectively manage the sub-region’s forest resources. This initiative is strategic in that forests in Central Africa have been overexploited due to conflict in the subregion. Nine countries, namely, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Burundi, Rwanda and São Tomé and Príncipe, established the Forest Commission of Central Africa under the Conference of Ministers for the Forests of Central Africa (COMIFAC). The aim of COMIFAC is to facilitate the harmonization and monitoring of forest policies in Central Africa. There are also examples of similar partnerships in the wildlife sector. These include the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, an international park between South Africa and Namibia, established by a treaty in 2003, and the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park connecting South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park. Initiatives for collaborative marine management include the agreement between Angola, Namibia and South Africa to jointly manage the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.
Multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs)
(Source: IUCN ROSA)
Although the objectives of most MEAs are interlinked and an interlinkages approach to environmental challenges at a thematic level has been developed, the same levels of interaction have not been created between the administering authorities at the different spatial levels – national to global. This presents its own challenges to establishing synergies for effective implementation. There is a need to link regional institutional structures with the institutions for administering the different MEAs. Improving interlinkages between regional institutions is also important. This involves developing multilevel and cross-sectoral interlinkages.
African countries are party to a number of international and regional conventions. At a regional level these include Bamako (which deals with Hazardous Waste) and the ACCNNR. Global MEAs include Basel, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the CBD, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Ramsar. Many African countries are still developing systems for incorporating these conventions into their programmes and policies, and thus have not yet focused on developing interlinkages between conventions. However, addressing this at an early stage – and as part of the process of implementing the conventions – may create opportunities for spreading costs and increasing synergies between these different MEAs. It is also important to develop synergies between implementing institutions for these conventions and institutions involved in poverty alleviation, health and other development needs.
Specific challenges relate to collaboration in communications as well as to information flow, particularly as it relates to reporting requirements. One way to address this is through the development of shared databases. Funding may be an important constraint, particularly as it is often given for sectoral projects and not for groups of projects that promote an interlinkages approach. Human capacity may also limit opportunities for interlinkages.
In developing synergies it might be helpful to cluster conventions – depending on their focus – around specific themes. For example the CBD and its Cartagena Protocol, Ramsar, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) among others are all important in the management of invasive alien species. It is helpful to create specific synergies between these conventions to develop an effective managerial regime which can be implemented at the national level. Similarly, the successful implementation of several MEAs is dependent on effective customs management. Here interlinkages between CITES, the Cartagena Protocol and the Basel and Bamako Conventions, and with customs authorities, is essential to manage trade in and movement of endangered species, living modified organisms, chemicals and hazardous waste. Developing customs capacity to meet the challenges of these conventions is best done in a holistic manner in order to avoid duplication of costs.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) can play an important role in promoting an interlinkages approach, particularly by facilitating communication among MEA secretariats and with the WTO.
(Source: RATES Trade Center)
Across Africa there are various initiatives that focus on building partnerships across sectors. For environmental policymakers these emerging partnerships present important opportunities. Policymakers are faced with the challenge of how to build collaboration between these partnerships and other processes, develop linkages and ensure the better inclusion of environmental issues in their activities.
(Source: Cilliers, J. (undated)
Trade is a major source of economic development and can boost resources available for improving social and environmental services. Given this, and the impacts of trade on environment, developing linkages with trade organizations is an important opportunity for the environment.
The Abuja Treaty of 1991 proposed the establishment of an African Economic Community by the year 2000 in order to foster the economic, social and cultural integration of the continent. An important milestone in that direction would be to establish free trade zones at the level of the existing sub-regional economic communities, since intra-regional trade can be a major boost for African economies.
Regional economic integration provides a forum for the negotiation of outstanding trade issues and can be a useful vehicle for delivering payments for ecosystem services. For instance, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is an appropriate forum where upper riparian countries of Uganda and Ethiopia may negotiate funding for watershed protection from the lower riparian countries of Egypt and Sudan. In addition, the hydroelectricity power authorities in Sudan and Egypt could channel resources to support reforestation in upper riparian countries whose watersheds maintain a steady, clean and sustainable flow of water.
New Partnership for Africa’s Development
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is a multisectoral initiative focused on achieving economic revival in Africa; the linkages between economic development and other sectors, such as science and technology and the environment, have been clearly identified. It seeks to build partnerships and promote cooperation between African countries as well as between Africa and other international groups, such as the G8. Within Africa. an important aspect of this cooperation is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) discussed in Box 16.
The APRM has developed and adopted a coherent environment action plan (NEPAD-EAP) and strategies to address the region’s environmental challenge in an integrated manner. The NEPAD-EAP views better governance, poverty eradication, economic growth and income distribution as part and parcel of Africa’s sustainable development. In July 2003, the second session of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of States and Government endorsed the Action Plan for the Environment Initiative of NEPAD. UNEP (2004) indicates that implementation of the plan is challenging and will require the support and active participation of African countries as well as development partners to provide finance and coordination.
The NEPAD initiative and the NEPAD-EAP recognize policy interlinkages and the relationship between biophysical and anthropogenic factors. Implementing a multidimensional plan through a sectoral structure at the national level compounds the challenge of financing, and at the same time opens up new opportunities for policy integration at the sub-regional and national levels.
- COMIFAC, 2004. Declaration de Yaoundé, Sommet des Chefs d’Etat d’Afrique Centrale sur la Conservation et la Gestion Durable des Forêts Tropicales, 17 Mars 1999,Yaoundé, Cameroon. Commission des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale.
- Emeseh, E., 2004. The Limitations of Law in Promoting Synergy between Environment and Development Policies in Developing Countries: A case Study of the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria. Proceedings of the Berlin Conference on the Human Dimension of Global Environmental Change – Greening of Policies, Inter-linkages and Policy Integration, 3-4 December, Berlin, Germany.
- Mohamed-Katerere, J.C., 2001. Review of the Legal and Policy Framework for Transboundary Natural Resource Management in Southern Africa. Paper No 3, IUCN-ROSA Series on Transboundary Natural Resource Management. IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Harare.
- OECD Development Centre and AfDB, 2005. African Economic Outlook 2004/2005. Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the African Development Bank. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris
- UN, 1998. Secretary-General Says Proposals in His Report on Africa Require New Ways of Thinking, of Acting. United Nations Press Release SG/SM/6524 SC/6503, 16 April.
- UN Millennium Project, 2005c. Investing in Development – A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Earthscan, New York.
- UNEP, 2004. GEO Yearbook 2003. United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi.
- UNEP, 2006. Africa Environment Outlook 2.
- UNEP, 2006. Africa Environment Outlook 2-ANNEXES.
- Watkins, K and Fowler, P., 2002. Rigged Rules and Double Standards – Trade, Globalization, and the Fight against Poverty. Oxfam Campaign Reports. Oxfam, Oxford.
- World Bank, 2005. World Development Indicators 2005. World Bank, Washington, D.C.
- WRI in collaboration with UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank, 2003. World Resources 2002-2004 – Decisions for the Earth, Balance,Voice and Power.World Resources Institute, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. World Resources Institute,Washington, D.C.
- WRI in collaboration with UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank, 2005. World Resources 2005: The Wealth of the Poor – Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty. World Resources Institute in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.World Resources Series. World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
- WWF, 2005. Asia-Pacific 2005: The Ecological Footprint and Natural Wealth. The World Wide Fund For Nature, Gland.
This is a chapter from Africa Environment Outlook 2: Our Environment, Our Wealth (e-book).
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