The purpose of the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Centre (henceforth “the Centre”) is to strengthen cooperation between China and African countries in the field of environment, as well as to promote green investments and development.
Supported by UN Environment, the Centre will serve as a complementary initiative to all similar existing forums and initiatives in Africa. It will provide tailored services to support African Member States to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, and the Africa Union’s 2063 Agenda.
The Centre will thus become a platform for broad environmental policy dialogue, information exchange, capacity building and co-operation on green development, directed and steered by both African countries and China.
- In the Johannesburg Action Plan (2016-2018) agreed upon during the Johannesburg Summit and the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Johannesburg, 3 to 5 December 2015, leaders from China and Africa agreed to set up the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Centre (“the Centre”) as part of the efforts to lift the China-Africa relationship to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
- On 5th December 2017, during the 3rd session of the United National Environment Assembly held in Nairobi, the Government of China, the Government of Kenya and the United Nations Environment Programme signed a Letter of Intent, in which the three Parties agreed to work together to establish the Centre.
- An Interim Secretariat of the Centre was unveiled on 17 August 2018 at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, with the purpose of supporting, coordinating and facilitating the establishment of a permanent Secretariat of the Centre at a later stage.
- At the 7th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit held on 3-4 September 2018 in Beijing, which was attended by 50 African Heads of State and/or Government, President Xi Jinping formally announced the establishment of the Centre. The Centre is also referenced in the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan 2019-2021, which is the main outcome document from the meeting.
Importance and relevance for UN Environment
General Assembly resolution 2997 (XXVII) of 15 December 1972 directs the UN Environment Programme, “to provide, at the request of all parties concerned, advisory services for the promotion of international co-operation in the field of the environment”. This includes providing guidance and advice on how investment and business practices can be made more sustainable.
The Rio+20 Conference of 2012 identified South-South Cooperation as a key enabling tool for developing countries to work along these lines. The UN Environment Programme Governing Council highlighted the link between the Green Economy and South-South Cooperation by requesting the UN Environment Programme to collect initiatives and experiences on different pathways for reaching a resource-efficient, low-carbon and socially inclusive economy. UN Environment’s role is to disseminate these initiatives and facilitate information sharing among countries, so as to support them to promote sustainable development and poverty eradication.
In 2005, the 23rd session of the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council adopted the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building. Under this plan, the United Nations Environment Programme was requested to strengthen its South-South Cooperation strategy as a means of implementing the Strategic Plan. The creation of the Centre is therefore in line with both the South-South Cooperation Strategy and the Bali Strategic Plan.
In the Letter of Intent, the United Nations Environment Programme committed to the following specific and time-bound actions:
- to provide office space and supporting facilities for the Centre during its inception phase to kick-off initial operations;
- to provide “in kind contribution” for the initial operation of the Centre;
- to appoint, in close consultation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, a Director of the Centre who will be responsible for management and operation of the Centre.
Objectives of the Centre
It is anticipated that the Centre will serve as:
- A forum for environmental policy interaction and dialogue.
- A clearing house for information exchange and technical co-operation on sustainable development.
- A platform for capacity development in support of environmental policy and best practice to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
- A catalyst for joint environmental programmes and project development and implementation.
- A platform for mobilisation of funds for environmental projects and programmes that will contribute towards Africa’s development priorities.
Operationalisation of the Centre
At present, at least US$ 1 million has been committed towards the Centre by China Trust Fund. It is envisaged that the Centre will be headquartered in Kenya to take advantage of the headquarter facility of the UN Environment Programme. UN Environment Programme has offered to initially provide office space and facilities to support the Centre’s start-up operations.
On this basis, the Secretariat of the UN Environment Programme will continue to facilitate the dialogue among China, African countries and the African Union Commission (AUC), to establish operational modalities of the Centre, through transparent, open and inclusive consultations among all interested parties.
The Centre will be a partnership initiative between all participating African countries and China. Key partners will include, among others, the African Union, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment and institutions of innovative research and development.
Other collaborating partners shall include development partners, international financial institutions, non-governmental organisations, inter-governmental organisations, relevant research institutions and private sectors globally. All interested countries and entities will be welcome to join and support the work of the Centre.
For further information, please contact:
Zhang Shigang, United Nations Environment Programme,