Sudan Transition an “Opportunity” to End Darfur Crisis

UNAMID peacekeepers in Dafur could be scaled back from November if the situation on the ground improves. This picture of peacekeepers is dated 2012. Courtesy: Albert González Farran/UNAMID

By James Reinl
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 27 2019 – Sudan’s transition to civilian rule offers a chance to end the ethnic violence that plagues the western province of Darfur and end a peacekeeping mission there, a top United Nations official said Monday.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the U.N. under-secretary-general for peace operations, told the U.N. Security Council that the peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as UNAMID, could be scaled back from November if the situation on the ground improves. 

A complex civilian-military transitional government is set to rule Sudan for a little over three years until elections can be held, following a mass protest movement that forced the ouster of longtime authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir in April.

“This is an opportunity to put a definitive end to the conflict in Darfur,” said Lacroix.

“Donor support will be critical more than ever to assist the simultaneous transitions in Darfur and wider Sudan, particularly considering the economic crisis that triggered the political change.”

In June, council members agreed to “pause” the drawdown of UNAMID’s 5,600-strong blue helmet force, which was deployed to Darfur in 2007 amid fighting between rebels and Sudanese government forces.

The new government in Khartoum has pledged to revive peace efforts in Darfur and other hinterlands, though it remains unclear whether the new sovereign council’s civilian or military members will wield more influence.

The political shift in Khartoum has not changed the situation in Darfur, where anti-government rebels clash with the Sudanese armed forces and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, Lacroix said via video link. 

Sudan’s ambassador to the U.N., Omer Mohamed Ahmed Siddig, urged council members to lift an arms embargo on Darfur and to start withdrawing peacekeepers by an agreed deadline of June 2020.

“Realisation of peace is my government’s priority during the coming six months,” Siddig said in New York.

“We call on the international community to join my government in inducing the revolutionaries who fought for toppling the previous regime to join hands with us to uplift the plight of our people who suffered the consequences of war.” 

Darfur is not Sudan’s only flashpoint. On Sunday, the sovereign council formally declared a state of emergency in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, following clashes between tribesmen there that police say have killed at least 16 people.

Addressing the council, British diplomat Jonathan Allen spoke of “hope and optimism” at the “beginning of a new chapter in Sudan’s history” that could tackle the bitter ethnic splits in a nation of some 40 million people.

“The new government has committed to achieve a fair, comprehensive and sustainable peace in Sudan and prioritise the peace process,” Allen said.

“We call on all sides but in particular the armed movements to engage constructively, immediately and without preconditions in negotiations to finally deliver a peaceful solution to the conflict in Darfur.”

The military overthrew Bashir on Apr. 11 after months of mass demonstrations, but protesters continued taking to the streets — fearing the military could cling to power — and demanded a swift transition to a civilian government.

A power-sharing deal between protest leaders and Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) was signed earlier this month, ending months of political chaos.

But tensions between the military and civilians are expected to feature prominently in new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s unruly transitional government.

Beyond politics, Sudan has been wracked by flooding across 17 of its 18 states that has claimed the lives of at least 62 people, the government says. Thousands of people have been displaced by the floods, which are worse in areas along the river Nile.

Trade, Currency War Weapons Double-Edged

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 2019 – The US-China trade war has flared up again less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump delayed new tariffs of US$160 billion on Chinese imports until December, purportedly to avoid harming the holiday shopping season.

Ratcheting up war talk
Earlier, after two days of trade talks without much progress, Trump claimed on 1 August that China had not kept its promise to buy more US farm exports. He then announced 10 per cent tariffs on US$300 billion worth of Chinese imports, besides the 25 per cent already levied on US$250 billion of goods from China.

Anis Chowdhury

China’s Commerce Ministry responded on 5 August by stopping purchases of US agricultural products. Its central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) also allowed China’s long over-valued renminbi (RMB) currency to fall below the RMB7 per dollar ‘threshold’ to its lowest level in more than a decade, causing US equity markets to plunge.

In response, Trump tweeted, “It’s called ‘currency manipulation’.” Supporting the President, the US Treasury officially claimed, for the first time since 1994, that China was manipulating its currency.

Trump then announced on 9 August that he was not ready to make a deal with Beijing, suggesting that he might cancel the next round of trade talks scheduled in September. Back-tracking on his promise to Chinese President Xi, Trump reaffirmed US business restrictions on Chinese 5G pioneer Huawei.

On 23 August, on the eve of the G7 Summit, China announced new retaliatory tariffs of US$75 billion on US goods, increasing duties by 5-10 per cent on more than 5000 US exports, including food, aircraft and oil, besides re-imposing its 25 per cent duty on US cars.

In more angry tweets, Trump announced higher US tariffs: raising the 25 per cent tariff on US$250 billion of Chinese imports to 30 per cent, and the 10 per cent tariff, announced on 1 August on US$300 billion of Chinese goods, to 15 per cent from 1 September.

Trump also ordered US companies to “start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA”.

Currency manipulation?
Unsurprisingly, China’s actions do not satisfy the US Treasury’s own criteria for currency manipulation. Of the three criteria, two were internationally agreed in the IMF’s Articles of Agreement: persistent one-sided intervention by a country to push down the value of its currency, and a large current-account surplus. Neither apply to China currently.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

After the Tiananmen protests three decades ago, China sought currency stability by virtually pegging its RMB to the US$, imitating Hongkong’s official dollar peg from 1983. As its agricultural and manufacturing productivity rose, its exports and trade surplus rose rapidly, causing its currency to become substantially undervalued for more than a decade.

Over a decade ago, China buckled under tremendous international pressure, with the RMB rising by 40 per cent, and probably overvalued in the last decade, especially after it officially became an IMF reserve currency in October 2016.

In the last half decade, the PBoC has intervened to slow RMB depreciation; from mid-2014 to late 2016, it spent about US$1 trillion, a quarter of its foreign exchange reserves, to bolster the RMB, by far, the largest intervention in history to support a currency.

Weaponizing currency
With Chinese economic growth slowing in recent years, US imports from China falling, and an almost balanced current account, the PBoC ending its costly support should weaken the overvalued RMB, and strengthen the greenback, which Trump once wanted to make America great again.

On this, China is not alone, but the US is. Trump regularly accuses others, especially countries the US has large trade deficits with – such as Japan, Korea, Germany, Canada and Mexico – of unfair competition, which he blames on their allegedly undervalued currencies.

In July, Trump tweeted, “China and Europe playing big currency manipulation game … in order to compete with USA. We should MATCH …” Soon after, on 18 July, returning from a G7 Finance Ministers’ meeting, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US might intervene in currency markets.

Vicious circle
A ‘beggar thy neighbour’ currency war is further destabilizing the already fragile world economy still struggling to recover more than a decade after the global financial crisis without addressing its ‘exorbitant privilege’ – of being the premier world reserve currency since the Bretton Woods ‘dollar standard’ – enabling its perennial trade deficits.

The US trade deficit is also due to spending more than it produces. The insatiable US consumption appetite – long and still increasingly debt-financed – drives its trade deficit. This is exacerbated by rising budget deficits, worsened by generous tax cuts for the wealthy.

Trump has also blamed the US Federal Reserve, implying Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is a “bigger enemy” for allowing the dollar to strengthen, and pressing him to lower the interest rate as he seeks re-election next year.

The Fed has caved in, citing the growing weakness of the US economy due to the trade war. But lower interest rates will likely only enable more cheap debt-financed consumption and wealth concentration.

The weaker Euro, Japanese Yen and other major currencies in recent months reflect their weak economies. But the more Trump rattles financial markets, the stronger the US dollar will become, regardless of Fed actions, as investors seek refuge in US ‘safe havens’.

As long as the US dollar remains the world’s major reserve currency, this fate seems unavoidable. Thus, Trump induced volatility is sending the dollar up, rather than down.

Kenya: The troubles of a science PhD from the West

By Verah Vashti Okeyo
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27 2019 – Graduate students of the London School of Economics and Political Science gathered at Kenya’s coast in September 2018, where the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Dr Mukhisa Kituyi told them: “With your international credibility, it is easier and tempting to leave and take out of the continent the little intellectual resource that could solve problems their countries face.”

Verah Vashti Okeyo

He was persuading them to come back home, to Africa, to ‘save the modern state from collapse’. Many PhD holders with African descent have taken Dr Kituyi’s message to heart, and returned to Africa, but according to interviews with fourteen returnees in biomedical sciences for this article, they have had a hard time adjusting to life at home.

The common theme from the returnees was the lack of funding for their work and inadequately equipped labs. When they managed to resolve the two, they had bureaucracy that is ingrained in the DNA of the institutions and the people they are expected to work with.

The World Bank estimates that unemployment for people with advanced education in Africa is as high a 20 per cent in some countries, and this is what returnees face when they land. Additionally, their return back home is compounded by other structural challenges such as bureaucracy, all these in context of a continent that have few researchers.

Kenyan Martin Rono, a PhD in cell and molecular biology from a joint Germany-France programme, anticipated a few challenges when he took his flight back home, where his knowledge about malaria – one of the country’s biggest public health problem — would be needed. That could not be further from the truth, first with the assumption that his return was a noble idea that would be praised.

Transferring the responsibility for development from the state to the individual

But this is planted in the graduate’s mind right from the start. In Kenya, like many other, Kenya’s colonial relationships sustain scholarships such as the Commonwealth Scholarships offered to former colonies of England, which often have a condition that the recipient of the scholarships need to return home after their studies to develop their countries. This assumption is rooted on neoliberalism, which transfers development from the responsibility of the state to individuals.

When returnees leave for their studies abroad, there is an overt expectation communicated to them through funding they receive to pursue their studies. For instance, the Commonwealth PhD scholarships for low and middle income countries limit applicants to six themes. Speaking at the launch of Kenya’s National Science and Research Strategy, Tom Ogada – the Chairman of the Kenyan National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) – said that the problems in the continent have forced scientists to ask themselves very hard questions and “they cannot follow their passion, but solutions to their citizens’ issues”.

This leaves returnees in a pickle, but this is not a new thing in the north-south relations. Just like migrants send money back home, returnees are expected to return with ideas and innovation as well as a link between Africa and the influential and richer host institutions in the west.

In their 2013 paper Introduction: Agents of Change? Staging and Governing Diasporas and the African State[1], Simon Turner and Nauja Kleist argue that returnees are perceived to assume a double identity as being westernized in their thinking, but still African. This should be the perfect mix for them to act as “brokers” between the west and Africa.

This is where the antagonism when they come home originates. To the locals, the returnees come back to try applying what they learnt from the well-resourced western universities, much to the consternation of their local counterparts who interpret it as a communication of their inferiority and lack of civilization. This, Lisa Åkesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz[2] state, may lead to exposure, exclusion and, sometimes, even outright harassment and belittling.

The unpredicted challenges of hierarchy and bureaucracy

A returnee who researches HIV – who requested be anonymous – needed a lab, at Kenya’s oldest and most respected tertiary institution, the University of Nairobi. It took three months to gain access to the lab due to entrenched bureaucracies intermingled with politics and the pecking order in science.

“There is a hierarchy of a system, where you are told to ‘follow the channels, your time will come’ and that kind of talk, so I sat there waiting, and not even free to give ideas, lest I be seen as pretending to know more than my superiors” she waited.

Then the university told her there was no position in the organizational structure as a postdoc.

She lamented: “They said the Human Resource system only recognized lecturers who also researches, not an independent researcher who is working towards mastery of a specialized [field] without the responsibilities of teaching”

For three months, she wrote letters, attended meetings as guilt clawed at her soul for being paid by her Canadian funder that would support her work and have no work to show for it. It took a call from the funders, abroad, to allow her access to the lab.

Another returnee said he got into disciplinary issues for asking that two of his colleagues maintain correspondence in institutional emails whenever they were communicating with research collaborators. He was shooed down by “we have signed bigger deals in these personal Yahoo and Gmail emails that you are now belittling”.

In this case, as Prof Laura Hammond had studied about returnees in Somalia[3], the returnee was sometimes seen as the priviledged job stealer who took fewer years to get positions than the local-educated who took more than a decade to be promoted or professionally recognized.

Then there were those that were not lucky to get a position at all, and settled for some in areas they were not skilled in.

When Dr. Rono came back to Kenya in 2008, there were no jobs in his area of expertise— genomics in Malaria— and he accepted a position as a researcher in HIV.

“It was a short detour but also it was the job that was available at that time,” he said.

Dr Rono’s research is attempting to modify the makeup of mosquitoes in an effort to make them capable of spreading Malaria, a disease that kills at least 700 children under five in Africa, daily, and is responsible for more than a quarter of all children deaths.

The labs that are equipped to conduct this kind of research are few. Rono, now based at UK’s Wellcome Trust funded centre in Kenya’s coast, has little complaints about where he works but that has not protected him against bureaucracy in getting reagents. For the four years in France and Germany, Rono says he would order reagents for manipulating the DNA, and he would get them in hours or days because “the manufacturers were just around the corner”

When he came to Kenya, he had to import the reagents, and this would take days, further dampening his spirit.

He said: “The cost, the process of having the reagents cleared from customs can take months”.

Lack of PhDs in Africa

The frustration of returning to Africa with a PhD in sciences has persuaded many of the PhDs to remain in the western countries especially, when the challenges are also compounded by poor governance that in turn may affect the science handled in the countries.

Many PhDs have migrated, depleting an already not-so critical mass of PhDs, who is able to research and tutor in Africa, and with negative consequences on knowledge production: Africa only produces 1 per cent of the world’s research and mostly from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.

Tom Kariuki, PhD and Director of the pan African funding platform; Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) from the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), says that it does not help much that African governments are allocating very little money not only on the people who have had a PhD, but the entire process of getting a PhD: little monies from the national exchequer to the education of science from primary school to institutions of higher learning; little money to facilitate research; no state funding for well-equipped labs; poor pay for the PhDs.

“Most governments have a short-term goal, while even getting the PhD and creating an environment where the PhD can practice is a long-term investment,” he said.

The continent currently has 198 researchers per million people, a paltry ratio compared to as many as over 4,000 in the UK and US. Africa needs a million new PhDs to achieve the world average for the number of researchers per capita.

In an interview about unrelated matter, Faith Osier who is a Kenyan globally acclaimed malaria researcher, now based in Germany, said that she has found herself more useful to the partner lab in Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) while away. Dr Osier has been able to recruit PhDs to work alongside her as she mentors them.

She said: “While we can appreciate that African governments are trying to invest more money, but is it enough to conduct quality research, train, mentor, and for the scientist to lead a quality life or even take their children to school?”

There is no data to monitor the movement of PhDs out of the continent, but some literature has estimated the data as between 20,000 to 25,000 a year.

PhDs, like Osier, defy the neoliberal approach through which returnees are viewed: While the returnee may be part of a peoplehood — bound by some elements to their countries such as exercises of a democratic processes like voting or tribe — their movement in and out of their countries of origin are mostly personal, not some act of nationalism: they want proper pay, and other career advancing opportunities.

Institutions like the AAS and collaborations with funders have founded mentorships and programs such as Future Leaders African Independent Research (FLAIR) that grants about 150,000 GBP every year for a period of two years for returnees to conduct their own research.

Aside from the financial support, the programmes pair the young scientist with more experienced researchers who act as mentors.

Periodically, the cohorts meet physically where they are given courses to refresh on critical skills that would enable them to work efficiently in the developing world. These include writing grant proposals, managing the teams they hire for their research, community and public engagement.

Institutions such as Next Einstein Forum and Mawazo Institute offer support to PhDs and are going an extra mile to have initiatives that focus on women.

Dr Kariuki said he was surprised at the many post-doctoral applicants who applied for FLAIR and many other opportunities from the 11 consortiums he oversees.

“I was so surprised that they were all willing to come home,” Dr Kariuki said.

Staying away from Africa

Conversations with the returnees revealed several concerns at individual and institutional level. While acknowledging that some of the decisions they make are motivated by personal reasons, most of them lamented about the bureaucracies in the universities and research companies the former PhD students looked forward to coming back home to work for. The former PhD students often ended up being questioned about “letters whose purposes we do not comprehend”, delays in procuring reagents, and hierarchical decision making. Since some of the labs are the only ones of their kind in the entire country, with the equipment needed for their scientific work, they are left with little or no choice, but to endure the struggles.

The returnees also hinted at a gaping chasm between the needs of the country for researchers communicated to them when they get scholarships to study, and how they are treated when they try to meet that deficiency: “When going abroad to study, you are told to come back home because your set of skills is needed, and then when you land here, there are too many hurdles from the same institution, to allow you to practice”

The returnees have found strategies of coping with these challenges, such as staying in the countries from where they acquired their PhDs, and conducting research, partnering with a home institution while they are abroad.

Pan African organizations, such as the African Academy of Sciences, have recognized the struggle that the young scientists face, and responded by creating initiatives to offer finances and support for soft skills to enable them to navigate their circumstances such as proposal writing. However, only time will tell whether it will solve the challenges of the returnees.

Money and a deliberate adjustment of research institutions is needed

This article highlighted the struggles of young African researchers, especially in the biomedical field. There is a chronic shortage of PhDs in the continent to build a critical mass of researchers, and this is exacerbated by a poor state of the education system in the continent. Therefore, aspiring researchers have sought education abroad mostly through scholarships, in which one of the conditions is that they will come back home and contribute to alleviating the shortage of researchers. Many of the PhDs returned home to a bureaucratic system that makes it difficult for them to employ and use their skills. 14 PhDs who spoke to this writer cited bureaucracy as the biggest challenge, second to lack of funding. The PhDs have employed strategies to cope with this including remaining in the countries they trained in. Noting the researchers’ disillusionments, donor and pan African organisations have instituted fellowships such as FLAIR which not only gives the researchers money for their work but also mentorship. To make PhDs interested in coming back home, money and a deliberate adjustment of research institutions is needed.

Verah Vashti Okeyo is a Global Health Reporter with Nation Media Group and based in Nairobi, Kenya

[1] Turner, Simon, and Nauja. Kleist. 2013. “Introduction: Agents of Change? Staging and Governing Diasporas and the African State.” African Studies. 72 (2): 192–206.

[2] Åkesson, Lisa, and Maria Eriksson Baaz, eds. 2015. Africa’s Return Migrants: The New Developers? London; New York, N.Y.: Zed Books.

[3] Hammond, Laura (2011) “Obliged to Give: Remittances and the Maintenance of Transnational Networks Between Somalis at Home and Abroad,” Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies: Vol. 10, Article 11. Available at: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/bildhaan/vol10/iss1/11

Copyright © 2019 DDRN

First published on 9 August 2019, https://ddrn.dk/kenya-the-troubles-of-a-science-phd-from-the-west/

Pushing For a Green Economy & Clean Energy

Joyce Msuya, United Nations Environment Programme’s Deputy Executive Director

By Zipporah Musau
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 27 2019 – Africa is grappling with myriad environmental and climate challenges, from drought to loss of biodiversity, cyclones and plastics pollution.

Africa Renewal spoke with the UN Environment Programme’s Deputy Executive Director, Joyce Msuya, on how African countries can mitigate some of these challenges and the opportunities that are available.

Excerpts from the interview:

MUSAU: It is about a year since you were appointed Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, and for a while you acted as the Executive Director. What has this journey been like for you?

MSUYA: I joined UNEP in August 2018 and it has been a fulfilling journey for me. Given the absolute centrality of environment in development, in attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it’s been great to see how the UN has played a leading role in many ways.

For example, we recently released the Global Environment Outlook 6, showing that we are increasingly connecting the environment to the broader development issues.

MUSAU: What are some of the highlights of your time at UNEP?

MSUYA: A key highlight has definitely been the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in March 2019, which focused on the innovations that can help us achieve sustainable production and consumption.

After five days of discussions, ministers from more than 170 UN member states delivered a bold blueprint for change, saying the world needed to speed up moves towards a new model of development in order to respect the vision laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Member States agreed to 23 non-binding resolutions covering a range of environmental challenges, including a more circular global economy; sustainable public procurement; addressing food waste and sharing best practices on energy-efficient and safe cold chain solutions.

If countries deliver on all that was agreed here and implement the resolutions, we could take a big step towards a new world order where we no longer grow at the expense of nature but instead see people and planet thrive together.

I have a strong team behind me—the staff at UNEP and the rest of the UN family. As a woman from East Africa, it is a very humbling experience to serve in the organisation, and be based at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, to work on environmental issues.

Zipporah Musau

MUSAU: What are some of the major environmental challenges facing Africa today and how can they be addressed?

MSUYA: I would summarize the biggest environmental challenges facing Africa today in four categories. One is the impact of climate change, considering that most African economies still depend on the agriculture sector.

The second is loss of biodiversity because this impacts food security and natural ecosystems. The third is energy, as many African economies are growing fast and require sufficient energy.

Lastly, looking at the demographic trends, there is a lot of growth in urban areas with populations moving to cities. This brings challenges, including that of waste management.

MUSAU: Are there any opportunities?

MSUYA: There are exciting opportunities. After the Paris Agreement, there was a global commitment and political will to address climate change. We are currently working with African countries to help them develop national plans in mitigation and adaptation.

On nature, next year there will be a big global meeting in China on the Convention on Biological Diversity, offering African member states the opportunity to shape the global biodiversity agenda by sharing strategies that are working well and can be replicated elsewhere.

Africa is endowed with many hours of unobstructed sunlight; how can we promote more usage of solar energy and other renewables to fuel Africa’s economies?

Credit: UNEP

MUSAU: UNEP has been pushing for a green economy by promoting low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive policies. How can African countries tap into this?

MSUYA: Push for cleaner sources of energy. We are already seeing several developments in this. If you follow what is happening in South Africa, trying to move its heavy manufacturing industrial sector from being dependent on coal to cleaner energy…it is a slow process. Transition from bad sources of energy to renewables takes time.

Then we have banning deforestation and making green economy plans. Countries like Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa are moving in this direction. It needs ministers of environment to work very closely with ministers of finance to develop these plans. UNEP is using its convening role to help member states do this.

UN Environment supports and showcases science-informed policies that have the potential to transform humanity’s relationship with our environment.

MUSAU: What are some of the ways African countries can deal with the plastic menace?

MSUYA: Governments, citizens, the private sector and civil society all have a role to play when it comes to plastics. There are four ways that African governments and citizens can help with the menace.

First is leadership and political will to actually put in place regulations to ban single-use plastics and promote reuse of smart plastics. The second is for the citizens to make smart choices, children telling their parents ‘mama, papa, please don’t buy plastics’. Consumer choices can influence the environmental footprint of plastics.

Third, we need to celebrate and advance homegrown advocacy such as the “Flip Flopi,” an indigenous innovation from Kenya where a boat has been made entirely out of plastics found on beaches. It recently sailed from Lamu to Zanzibar to raise awareness.

Lastly, partnerships with the private sector. If you look at good examples of where single-use plastics have been banned, there have been engagements between governments and the private sector to encourage them to find alternative and more sustainable ways to replace plastics bags.

Part of UNEP’s role is to promote the sharing of these experiences. A number of countries in Africa, including my own, Tanzania, and also Kenya, are looking at how they can preserve the national parks to sustain the tourism industry and people’s livelihoods.

And finally, we need to see how we can address the plastic menace by introducing more circularity into economies. This is where capacity-building support for governments will be critical.

MUSAU: How is UNEP helping member states in Africa to achieve SDGs and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda? In particular, how is UNEP coordinating with pan-African organisations such as the African Union to address the effects of climate change?

MSUYA: UN Environment supports and showcases science-informed policies that have the potential to transform humanity’s relationship with our environment. We also host global platforms – from the UN Environment Assembly to international financial networks to multilateral environmental agreements – that catalyze action.

And we advocate, working with citizens across the world, to inspire change. However, we cannot do it alone because the scale of the challenge is huge but there are enormous opportunities to make a difference and so partnerships are critical. For political advocacy we are engaging with the African Union through our office in Addis Ababa.

We provide policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building. We are working with NEPAD and talking to the East African Community to see how we can support the sub-regional and regional initiatives. I was in Cape Town, South Africa, earlier this year, with other regional bodies, to learn how countries develop green economic plans.

MUSAU: How is UNEP engaging women and youth?

MSUYA: We are engaging them at various levels as part of the intergovernmental process. Women and youth are a core part of implementing our programs. At the UNEA 4, we heard from many youth activists on why they are becoming impatient and demanded for action from us.

MUSAU: What is your message to African countries on environment?

MSUYA: Africa has a significant role to play when it comes to the environment. All these global challenges have an impact on the continent, hence the need to hear African voices at all levels in global forums. Also, incorporating and mainstreaming environment in all the activities at the country level is key as is translating these into actions.

Partnerships are crucial: Africa is diverse, but we can build on that diversity to bring collective action. Our challenges cannot be solved individually. It takes a village to raise a child in Africa; it is going to take a village to solve our environmental problems.