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The Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development has been inaugurated. Established by the Italian government in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development aims to create and scale-up innovative solutions for sustainable development, helping African countries implement the goals of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Climate Agreement.

Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development inauguratedThe Centre is a response to the need for a dedicated hub for the promotion of sustainable development, with a special interest in initiatives linked to climate, climate-smart agriculture, access to water, clean energy generation, and gender equality. It will promote communication and support initiatives linked to accessing international funds, identify and evaluate projects and enhance the involvement of resources from the private sector in programmes as core functions.

Several ministers from African countries attended the inauguration and participated in a round-table discussion exploring how the Centre can contribute to Africa's needs and how G7 countries can steer their co-operation to minimise environmental degradation and promote sustainable economic growth in the region. The Italian government has set up a trust fund for the Centre, and one of its first tasks has been to support initiatives promoted by the United Nations Secretary General for sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, the Centre was conceived thanks to an Italian initiative at the meeting of G7 environment ministers in Bologna in 2017 and offers a “practical foundation” for speeding up responses to the known challenges of the future. “We are entering a century when Africa's own development will increasingly determine the development of the world economy,” he says.

One of the Centre’s focus areas will be on agricultural sectors and promoting rural development. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told delegates at the inauguration that it will not be possible to modernise African agriculture if there is no incentive for rural youth with options other than migration. “We need young people in rural areas, we need rural development, and we can't have that without facing the challenges of climate change,” he said.

According to Graziano da Silva, sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernutrition  - and farm yields are far below those obtained elsewhere. There are a host of reasons, such as infrastructure deficits and the lack of access to markets and credit. Conflict and climate change are also having a strong impact on vulnerable rural populations. The Centre will therefore “facilitate much-needed exchange of information and co-ordination to increase efficiencies and build synergies across Africa”.

Image credit: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/about-us/our-leadership.html

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