WWF call for environmental commitment from Africa and China

The global conservation charity, the World Wildlife Fund, have just announced that they are going to be calling for strong environmental commitments from China and Africa who are having discussions this week in Beijing.

The director-general of the charity is Jim Leape and he has commented, “This forum that is taking place to discuss cooperation between Africa and China, is a great new model of cooperation between developing countries.

We have seen the failure of several talks in recent years to reach significant environmental conclusions, and we really believe that this new conference is going to herald a step forward in environmental issues for the developing world.”

As China has become Africa’s largest trading partner, WWF has put forward 40 recommendations to ensure that the 2012 action plan will place green economy and sustainable development at the core of the China-Africa relationship.

In particular, WWF recommends collaboration to foster a business framework where commodities such as timber are sourced and traded in a responsible way, as key resources upon which local communities and the world’s climate depend. This could be achieved by agreeing a zero-tolerance policy on illegal timber trade, by supporting projects for sustainable forest management and granting preferential treatment to products that are certified under rigorous procedures.

In addition, China could use its leadership position in renewable energy to help Africa increase energy access through clean energy sources. Investing in the production and dissemination of highly efficient cookstoves, solar water heaters and biogas digesters, as well as training local operators in this field, can dramatically improve economic opportunities and the standards of living for millions of people.

At the same time, China should be compelled to help African countries face an unprecedented wildlife crisis due to poaching activities serving mostly the Asian (and Chinese) market of ivory and rhino horn.

In recent months several African countries have adopted green development plans or policies to enhance management of their natural capital. In May, for example, ten governments (Botswana, Liberia, Namibia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda, Gabon, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana) endorsed the Gaborone Declaration aiming to integrate the value of natural capital into national and corporate accounting. And in June Central African countries agreed on a regional plan to strengthen law enforcement and combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

WWF asks that the momentum being created in Africa continues through FOCAC, with China’s boosting sustainable development in the continent.

“Investing in sustainable development is fundamental for both Africa and China’s long-term prosperity. China has a stated goal of green development and African countries are developing plans to go green, so it is a good time for both to take concrete action to make all this become a reality,” said Dr. Li Lin, Leader of the China for a Global Shift Initiative.

FOCAC is the highest political platform for dialogue between China and African countries. Every three years a Ministerial Conference defines principles and commitments for Chinese investment in Africa. The next Ministerial Conference will be in Beijing on 19-20 July 2012, agreeing an action plan of projects that China and African countries will undertake in the coming three years.