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Monday, 1 September 2008
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First Inter-ministerial Conference on
Health and Environment in Africa

26–29 August 2008 | Libreville, Gabon

Highlights for Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Entrance to the conference centre at the Cité de la Démocratie in Libreville, Gabon
Daily web coverage
Tuesday, 26 August - Wednesday, 27 August - Thursday, 28 August - Friday, 29 August
On their second day of work, Health and Environment experts from across Africa met in parallel working groups on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 to consider four topics. These are: the policy frameworks for addressing health and environmental impacts; health impact assessment; the economic and development dimensions of environmental risk factors to human health; and international legislative and regulatory frameworks. The experts also attended a side event on the eco-health approach, organized by the Community of Practice Ecohealth for West and Central Africa (COPES-AOC).

Among the issues that attracted lengthy debate in the working groups was a suggestion, in the context of policy frameworks, that the environment ranks low on the national development agenda. The experts also debated whether environmental or health impact assessments would take precedence in developing the environmental health agenda. Regarding economic and development dimensions of environmental risk factors to human health, many participants underscored the need for strong economic development policies to drive development whilst addressing the links between health and environment. On international legislative and regulatory frameworks, much of the discussion centered on the need for their regional and national implementation and enforcement. 

The experts reconvened in an afternoon plenary to consider the draft Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa. They undertook a paragraph-by-paragraph examination of the first four preambular paragraphs that address the agreements and principles to be reaffirmed, express deep concern at the level of environmental degradation and related health risks, state the environmental effects on health and the measures needed, and underscore the necessity of a strategic alliance between the health and environment sectors to address these gaps. A drafting group was subsequently set up to revise, shorten and structure the preamble. Plenary moved on to consider the operative paragraphs on the actions that ministers of health and environment set out to achieve. A wide range of views were captured by the Bureau, and the drafting group was charged with working on the text for further consideration in plenary on Thursday morning, 28 August.

John Whitelaw, UNEP, presented the technical report on policy frameworks to address health and environmental challenges.

Osman Abu Salma, Sudan, stressed the importance of health and safety standards.

Christine Edmeé Ralalaharisoa, Madagascar, noted that environmental impact assessments are viewed as costs, not investments.

Faustin Ondamba Ombanda, Gabon, emphasized the need to review existing environmental policies.

Ngolo Bertin, Republic of Congo, urged WHO to support environmental initiatives at the national level  as they have done with international health standards.

Chair Lucien Obame, responds to comments made by participants.

Katharina Kummer-Peiry, Executive Secretary, Basel Convention, presented the technical report on international, legislative and regulatory frameworks.

Carlos Dora, WHO, presented the draft technical report on health impact assessments.
Ernest Dabire, IDRC, made a presentation on the work of the Community of Practice Ecosystem for West and Central Africa, COPEH. COPEH is supported financially by IDRC.
View of Libreville from the Cité de la Démocratie.
Artwork at the Cité de la Démocratie in Libreville, Gabon.
Daily web coverage
Tuesday, 26 August - Wednesday, 27 August - Thursday, 28 August - Friday, 29 August
Related Links
UNEP Resources
Conference website
Background Paper
Provisional Agenda
Provisional Timetable: Technical Segment
Technical Documents
African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)

WHO Resources
WHO homepage
WHO Health and Environment Linkages Initiative

International Institute for Sustainable Development - Reporting Services (IISD RS) Resources
IISD RS coverage of AMCEN-12, 7-12 June 2008, Johannesburg, South Africa
IISD RS summary report of AMCEN-11, 22-26 May 2006, Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo (HTML - PDF)
African Regional Coverage
Linkages Update - Bi-weekly international environment and sustainable development news
MEA Bulletin - Newsletter on key MEAs and their secretariats
Climate Change Policy & Practice - A knowledge management project for international negotiations and related activities on climate change
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