A new Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative Declaration, a unified set of principles for the responsible production of agricultural commodities in Africa, has been supported by ministers from ten African nations.
The Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative (ASCI) places producing nations at the forefront of establishing standards for the sustainable development of cocoa, rubber, palm oil, coffee, and other commodities while protecting livelihoods and natural resources, such as forests.
Ministers from signatory nations attended the signing in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort, with Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, representing Nigeria and promising to advance the process.
The African Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) was formed by ten West and Central African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone.
These countries are home to 25% of the world’s tropical forests and 75% of Africa’s forests. Proforest is facilitating the APOI, a Tropical Forest Alliance effort to assist the Africa-led Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative.
“We observed great progress from COP22 in 2016 when the Marrakesh Declaration was signed, to COP26 in 2021, where every nation displayed critical milestones to ensure the sustainable development of palm oil,” Proforest Global and Africa Director Abraham Baffoe stated.
“Many nations have recognized the need to collaborate across multiple commodities,” he said, adding that “the launch of ASCI represents a key advancement as a true multi-stakeholder project, with every country contributing at the regional, national, and local levels throughout the process.”
The Ministers recognized that the difficulties addressed in palm oil were similar to those addressed in other commodities, accelerating the transition to the Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative, which would ensure sectors are integrated to create positive results for people, nature, and climate.
“We need the forest guardians – national governments and local communities – to own and lead on-the-ground solutions that integrate agricultural commodity production and local livelihoods with forest protection,” Baffoe said, adding that “enshrining those rights and protection in laws and regulation will provide an enabling environment where we can continue to build capacity, paving the way for further investment and scale.”
Governments have recognised the potential for increased production of palm oil, cocoa, and other agricultural commodities to fulfil rising global demand and help millions of Africans achieve food security and improved lives while maintaining the region’s surviving rainforests.
Diversification of food production also enhances resilience and food security in any country. It also helps to mitigate the effects of climate change. The Congo Basin alone has the capacity to store 30 billion tonnes of carbon, which is equivalent to three years of world fuel emissions, and its forests are critical for regional climatic stability.
Meanwhile, 200 of the largest companies, civil society organizations, and well-known voices on climate change have reiterated their commitment to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5oC, and urged governments to align implementation plans with 1.5oC. This comes as the official COP27 outcomes were being drafted over the weekend in preparation for national ministers’ arrival in Egypt this week.
They announced this in a statement that was supported by numerous corporations, including Acciona, Amazon, IKEA, Microsoft, Nestlé, Unilever, Volvo Cars, and Walmart. It was also signed by the ITUC, The Elders, UN Global Compact, and numerous other non-governmental organizations, as well as well-known figures like Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism, Børge Brenda, Mary Robinson, and Johan Rockström, president of the World Economic Forum.
Governments were urged to step up their promises and plans and put them into action right away.
“We need governments to uphold their commitment to reduce global temperature rise to 1.5°C and move quickly to fulfil it, starting with the most developed economies in the world”.
A related event is that Sameh Shoukry, the president of COP27, and John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate change for the United States, have unveiled a plan to hasten adaptation on the African continent, saving millions of lives and livelihoods.
The Nexus of Food, Water, and Energy Initiative has received an additional $15 billion investment that will support the implementation of one major energy project ($10 billion), five initiatives for food security and agriculture, and three irrigation and water projects.
Shoukry and Kerry co-hosted a special session on “Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa,” when the announcement of the package was made. Shoukry stated that the main obstacle facing African nations is obtaining financing for climate action. recognizing the urgent need for progress in building resilience and in adapting to the effects of climate change.
30 global adaptation outcome targets by 2030 are included in this agenda, which is urgently needed to close the adaptation gap and boost the resilience of four billion people by accelerating change in five impact systems: food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure.