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The Challenge:

Africa faces arange of natural resource changes and challenges. Water storage capacity is highly under-developed and 25 countries are expected to face water stress or water scarcity by 2025. More than half of the 10 countries with the net largest forest loss per year are in Africa, while processes of land degradation and desertification are of increasing concern. Africa is also the only continent where fish stocks are indecline. With Africa's limited coping capacity, climate change presents numerous risks that threaten to exacerbate current challenges with potentially devastating human consequences. With over 95% of Africa's agriculture being rainfed, for example, productionis highly vulnerable to projected increases in temperature and declines in precipitation.

Key Commitments:

The importance of environmental sustainability is recognized in the Millennium Declaration and 2000 World Summit Outcome, and is the 7th MDG. Building on previous commitments made in the 1992 Rio Summit and elsewhere the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development mapped out a broad range of commitments and goals. In Africa, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Founding Statement emphasizes importance of natural resource management, and details eight areas for priority intervention in its Environment Initiative.

In the field of climate change, United Nation (UN) members endorsed the Framework Convention on Climate Change at the 1992 Rio Summit, where measures to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were agreed. A number of countries also signed the Kyoto Protocol, coming into force in 2005, committing countries to collectively reduce emissions by 5.2% between 2008-2012 compared to 1990 levels. In the 2007 Growth and Responsibility in the World Economy declaration, G8 leaders pledged to ‘seriously consider' additional decisions made by the EU, Canada and Japan. In December 2007 the 13thConference of the Parties adopted the Bali Action Plan as a road map for the negotiation process towards a post-2012 climate change agreement, identifying 5 topics to be addressed.

In Evian, G8 leaders agreed to develop operational regional climate centres in Africa, while the focus of the Gleneagles G8 statement and Plan of Action broadened to include issues of energy efficiency, clean technology and (to a lesser extent) support for adaptation. These themes continued in the 2007 Heilingdamm Growth and Responsibility in the World Economy declaration and the 2008 Hokkaido Declaration of Leaders Meeting of Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change, with a focus oncontinued support for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.