Participants attend the 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on June 30, 2017. The 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union kicked off on Friday in the framework of the 29th AU summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)
by Shiferaw Tadesse and Zhu Shaobin
ADDIS ABABA, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) is calling upon the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, saying the recent U.S. exit decision negatively affects Africa's vulnerable agriculture sector, said Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.
The AU official was speaking to the press on Saturday during the 29th AU summit being held in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, where she said the pan-African bloc has taken various measures to promote sustainable natural resource management and mitigate impacts of climate change.
In June, U.S. President Donald Trump announced withdrawal of his country from the milestone Paris climate agreement.
Responding to a question regarding the impact of the U.S. exit on agriculture in Africa, Sacko said "of course, it will affect certain programs." However, she said African nations are determined in implementing the Paris accord and that the U.S. exit will not stop its implementation.
The commissioner noted that Africa set a pace in the adoption of the Paris climate change deal at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and made enormous contributions to the outcomes of the COP 22 held in Marrakech, Morocco.
Africa, which is said to be the least contributor to global warming and carbon emission, suffers most from climatic change and its adverse weather effects.
Underling the need to employ collaborative efforts to deal with climate change, the AU commissioner hailed China's commitment to addressing the challenges of climate change.
The commissioner said the drought in East Africa and the fall armyworm, in particular, are the major challenges facing Africa at present.
Moussa Faki Mahamt, Chairperson of the AU Commission, gives a speech during the 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on June 30, 2017. The 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union kicked off on Friday in the framework of the 29th AU summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)
An estimated 16 million people are suffering from the worst drought in decades in East and Horn of Africa while in the coming months, many more will be needing humanitarian aid and being displaced due to the poor rains, according to data from the UN International Organization for Migration in June.
To make things worse, an outbreak of fall armyworm has been reported in 25 African countries and is still spreading, having infested 1.5 million hectares of land crops, mainly maize crop, the staple food of many Africans, Sacko said, adding the AU is taking steps to develop mechanism to support its member states in addressing the "unprecedented" infestation.
To address challenges in the agriculture sector and achieve food security, the official also expressed the AU's keen interest in strengthening cooperation with China.
"We are going to work more because China has a lot of experience in agriculture. We can get a lot of opportunities. We are looking forward, during my tenure, to strengthen the cooperation in the sector of agriculture," she said.
"We need to strengthen the department, to assure that Africa's food security is in control and in terms of the climate change issue, we can also partner with China." she said.