The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD) was officially closed on 29 November, 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Besides the plenaries and the meetings in the various working groups to try to reach consensus on biodiversity key issues, the conference was an opportunity for the representative of the African Union Development Agency, AUDA/NEPAD to meet several delegates to provide them with the necessary information and technical advices.
Throughout the meetings, the African delegates had a strong common position on the need for emerging technologies for the development of the continent. This position was in line with the reports of the African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies adopted by the African Heads of States, and officially launched in June, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda.
The AU NEPAD team, led by Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of the NEPAD Regional Office for West Africa and Director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise, was requested by many authorities for informal meetings. Dr Ouedraogo particularly met African authorities who were present in Sharm El Sheikh for the high level segment of the biodiversity conference. Among the African leaders was Mr. Batio Nestor Bassiere, Minister of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change of Burkina Faso. Dr Ouedraogo provided him will all the information pertaining to the recommendations of the AU High Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) and offered him print versions of the relevant documents, including the Integrated Vector Management programme document.
Dr Ouedraogo also met with Ms Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America Director for ETC group. Ms Ribeiro wished to have more information on the genesis of APET and especially the report adopted by the AU and recommending research on the gene drive technology for malaria control in Africa.
Ms Ribeiro said she wished the AU had included the civil society in this decision making process. She asked Dr Ouedraogo to facilitate a meeting with the AU so that her organization expresses their concerns on the technology.
Dr Ouedraogo explained that the panel was formed and its members nominated by the AU Commission. APET mission is to make recommendations on the appropriate technologies for the African continent.
Dr Ouedraogo also met some delegates of the African group to discuss positions and help the group reach consensus or develop alliances with other groups. Africa participation to this CBD meeting was commended by all countries and Dr Ouedraogo assured that the African Union Commission and NEPAD will continue to provide African countries with the necessary technical support to ensure the continent keep the momentum and defend its interests in this important negotiation meeting.
The African group held it last consultation meeting on November 28. In his closing remarks, Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo affirmed “this COP has revealed the Africa we want, diverse but united.” He further stated that the AUC and NEPAD will continue to provide the necessary support for a better preparation and coordination of the African group for the next meetings.