East Africa ERO Summit Seen as Important Step Towards ‘Paris Climate 2015’

The Republic of Djibouti, May 08 /CSRwire/ – The 2015 East Africa Environmental Risk & Opportunities (“ERO”) Summit, held May 2-4, brought together ministers, private sector leaders and development experts from 4 continents and more than 16 countries to discuss regional environmental threats, as well as specific opportunities to address climate change, waste transformation, marine ecosystems and environment-linked health challenges, all under the umbrella of ‘resilience and adaptation to environmental change.’   The event and associated environmental initiatives were seen to be an important regional step towards the December United Nations Climate Conference, COP21, which aims to produce a binding and universal climate agreement among world nations.

The ERO Summit was hosted by the President of the Republic of Djibouti, H.E. Ismael Omar Guelleh, and organized by Perim Associates, LLC; Djibouti’s Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Nabil Mohamed; the Center for the Study and Research of Djibouti (CERD), the University of Djibouti and the Djibouti Chamber of Commerce.  Participants and sponsors included the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Yale University, U.C.S.F., the Saudi Fund for Development, the French Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), the Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Centre and Network (HoA-REC), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), The Homan Group, The World Bank, G4S, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Coca Cola, Turkish Airlines, Coubeche Ets., EyePACS, Curtis-Mallet, Prevost & Mosle LLP, Emiroil, Horizon Terminals, Dubai Ports World, the InvestIn Group, U.C. Berkeley, Enventix, Fox Rothschild LLP, Smart Data Science LLC, JET Recycling and many others.

Coinciding with a visit to Djibouti by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State to the country, the event underscored the connection between the environment, economic development and regional security.  Secretary Kerry congratulated Djibouti on hosting the summit, and its nascent partnerships with U.S. universities, in remarks delivered May 6.

Among the initiatives proposed at the summit: a regional Climate & Environmental Observatory under the auspices of the 8-nation Horn of Africa Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD); a Yale University-led East Africa & Arabia Climate Impact Assessment Task-force (EAACIAT), which is to produce the first high-resolution climate impact model of the region, and a Regional ‘Acute Care & Screening Corridor’, backed by the Institute for Global Emergency Care (IGEC), a partnership between U.C.S.F. Global Health and the African Federation for Emergency Medicine. The latter would integrate a network of ‘hub-and-spoke’ emergency-care clinics with pandemic monitoring capacity, to help countries in the region respond and isolate infectious diseases like Ebola, whose spread is also linked to environmental change.   The network’s physical infrastructure will be outfitted with environmental monitoring capabilities, and feed into the regional monitoring center.

At a meeting with conference principals during the second day of the conference, H.E. President Guelleh cited a moral imperative for world leaders to act on climate change, and reiterated Djibouti’s support for the partnership initiated by the conference.  Professor Mark Pagani, Director of the Yale University Climate & Energy Institute (YCEI), responded to the President’s remarks that countries in the region, including Djibouti, must do much more to mitigate climate change, adding, “we are all late.”

The summit highlighted Djibouti’s bid to use its developing logistics infrastructure, environmental research cadres and increasingly critical position at the crossroads between Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to become a demonstration hub for environmental technology, renewable energy, rural and acute health care, and clean-tech.   Djibouti’s active engagement with Western universities like Yale, the University of California, the University of Massachusetts and the University of New Hampshire, and specialized environmental, agricultural and waste-transformation companies, is a case in point.

H.E. Dr. Nabil Mohamed, Minister of Higher Education and Researchthe Republic of Djibouti, said:  “The ERO Summit has succeeded in bringing attention to the need for science-based solutions to critical regional problems.  We believe Djibouti can play an important regional catalyst role, as a clearinghouse not just for climate data, but a source of analysis and communication on the threat of environmental change.”

Dr. Jalludin Mohamed, Director of the Center for the Study and Research of Djibouti (CERD), said: “CERD and Djibouti look forward to collaborating with this focused group of prestigious U.S. universities – and expanding existing collaboration with long-time African and international development and research partners to fortify the local and regional response to critical environmental challenges.” 

Dr. Mark Pagani, Director of The Yale Climate and Energy Institute, said: “Climate change is here to stay.  We congratulate Djibouti for its unequivocal stand on the issue — a position that still eludes many Western countries.”

Ambassador Jean-Marc Chataigner, Director General, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), said:  “The future of our children must be our priority. We have a duty to preserve the planet they will inherit. The conference of Djibouti was a decisive step toward the success of Paris Climate 2015.”

H.E. Mr. Mamadou Coulibaly, Minister of Justice, Human Rights & Public Freedoms for Cote D’Ivoire, and President of the Council of Ministers, The Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), said:  “In the name of OHADA and its constituent 17 West and Central African states, I congratulate the initiators of the ERO Summit, in their efforts to federate the positions of the East African States on climate change and environmental risks.  We hope that this will be a spark that encourages all the regions in Africa to unify their positions, so that at the Paris Conference, Africa will speak with one voice, equals to equals.”

Dr. Ethan Chorin, CEO, Perim Associates, LLC, said: “Perim Associates is proud to have had this opportunity to partner with the Djiboutian government on the planning and implementation of the ERO Summit and associated climate and health initiatives. The country has wisely invested over the last decade in logistics infrastructure, and in environmental research capacity. It is well suited to solar, wind and geothermal energy, and the right size to allow for experimentation and quick implementation of ideas that might take years to implement elsewhere. Djibouti is a natural demonstration hub for applied science, whether in environment, energy or health.”

Dr. Andrea Tenner, U.C.S.F. Department of Emergency Medicine, Global Health Division, and The Institute for Global Emergency Care (IGEC) said, “In accepting the challenge of planning rural, acute care delivery, Djibouti is taking a leading role in making healthcare more accessible to East Africans.  This week’s summit made very clear the critical link between access to health and overall healthcare system resilience and stability.”

Dr. Jorge Cuadros, U.C. Berkeley, Department of Optometry and Vision Science, said: “Blindness from chronic disease is a major problem in Djibouti, that can be greatly reduced. We have the tools and support necessary to develop effective means of surveillance and triage.” 

Mr. Don Dussey, Sr. Public Affairs & Communications Manager, Coca Cola, said: “we were much impressed with the ECO summit, and what has been launched here, as well as by our local bottling partners, Ets. Coubeche, to support sustainable business and mitigation of climate change and environmental harm.  Djibouti in that regard is an example of a state that supports local business to demonstrate new environmental approaches.” 

Dr. Matthew Huber, University of New Hampshire, said: “In terms of the ocean-atmosphere dynamics of the region, Djibouti is in a very exciting place.  It is at the dividing line between two major climate regimes, where changes in either system can have major impacts on the region.  That’s why the proposed Climate Task Force and model is so important.” 

For more information on the ERO summit, initiatives and associated publications, follow the website at www.eastafricaecosummit.com, or contact info@perimassociates.com.

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