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FOCAC to strengthen China-Africa environmental cooperation: UNEP chief

Erik Solheim, the executive director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) speaks during an interview at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 31, 2018. Xinhua/Wang Teng

Jin Zheng, Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Xinhua – The upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit will provide an ideal platform to boost China-Africa partnership on ecological matters, said Erik Solheim, the executive director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“I hope the meeting will develop win-win solutions where Africa can learn from Chinese experience on fast development and also how China is turning around to be an environment-friendly country,” Solheim told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The UNEP chief will be attending the FOCOC summit, to be held in the Chinese capital of Beijing on Sept. 3-4, whose theme is “China and Africa: toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation.”
He noted that China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative that will feature prominently at the FOCAC summit could pave way for green development in Africa.
He said investment in environmentally friendly infrastructure projects like road and rail proposed under the Belt and Road Initiative will ensure that Africa becomes a green and prosperous continent.
The UN environment body will be hosting a China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center that was proposed during the previous FOCAC summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa in December 2015.
An interim secretariat that oversees running of this center serving as a hub for robust China-Africa cooperation to advance the green agenda was launched in August this year.
Solheim said operationalization of the center will facilitate transfer of skills, technology and expertise required to tackle threats to ecological sustainability in the world’s second largest continent.
“The idea is to establish a platform for transfer of Chinese technology into Africa and also technologies from other parts of the world,” said Solheim.
“So if China can help Africa move rapidly into solar, that would be a great opportunity. If China can help Africa manage its waste that is a good opportunity,” he added.
The UNEP chief said African countries can tap into electric mobility that has a strong foothold in China to address pollution in their rapidly growing cities.
Solheim noted that the FOCAC summit will provide a platform for African countries to learn from China’s concept of ecological civilization and possibly replicate it at home as they embark on their quest to promote environment-friendly economic growth.
“There is a lot China can offer to Africa, to drive green development of this continent. The ecological civilization that started in China can also be embraced by the rest of the world and Africa to lead us into a future where environment and development can co-exist,” said Solheim.
He said China’s success in protection of pandas and waste management offers valuable lessons to African countries in their bid to strengthen conservation of endangered species and tackle pollution in burgeoning cities.
The UNEP chief stressed that China’s global environmental stewardship will be key to sustaining the fight against climate change and protection of vital ecosystems in Africa.

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