Ali Bongo talks green but no concrete measures offered to walk the talk.
London Gabon's Head of State President Ali Bongo Ondimba, at the invitation of the British Government, addressed today the Lancaster House conference on "a climate and resource security dialogue for the 21st century".
This event has been a good opportunity for President Ali Bongo Ondimba who plays a worldwide leading role on environmental and sustainable development issues to to offer a few thoughts on the potential consequences of continued climate change for security in Africa.
Starting back from 500 years before Christ, Gabon's President stressed that "Climate change is a security threat that Africans have had to deal with all of our lives. As we look to the future, Africa is going to have to walk a tightrope if we are to achieve sustainable growth; for we cannot improve our living standards while simultaneously degrading the natural environment around us. We face the challenge of driving growth and prosperity for our people during a period of increasing environmental stress, much of which we can do little to combat."
Analyzing climate change in the context of a security threat that will change the nature of the debate globally, the President mentioned that "the proliferation of armed conflict has the potential to impact all of us, not just those living in countries directly affected" before reminding his "active participation in His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales' Rainforest Project" , his " trip to Copenhagen in 2009 and the recent GEO meeting held in Libreville on water cycles in Africa" that have all reinforced his conviction that we will soon be faced by increasingly significant security challenges, as a result of global warming.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba also elaborated on the fact that "The resources over which we fight in the future will not be oil, gold and diamonds: the wars of the future will be fought over water, food and land" adding: "If we truly want to avoid such bleak prospects in the future, we need to adhere to a strict respect of our environment today. Peace, Security and the Environment are inter-dependent. We cannot work for lasting peace if we don't confront today, the causes that we know will lead to wars in the future".
Pointing out his strong belief in preventive diplomacy, the day's key speaker elaborated on Gabon's potential and "PLAN CLIMATe" rightly saying that: "Gabon is in a unique position today. We are rich in minerals, oil and gas, and yet our natural environment is still relatively pristine.
We have internationally recognised experts at the frontline of environmental debates and we have the political will to find solutions and to engage in the necessary reforms to implement these solutions".
The new government structure is a clear indication of Gabon's route and ambitions as "in order to accelerate this work" he said "we have just restructured the government, creating a Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. Our intention is clear - we intend to integrate the principal of sustainable, climate sensitive development into our national development strategy. We see the environment as a cross cutting issue that impacts the entire economy today, and feel that this will become more and more the case in the future".
In his closing remark, Gabon's Head of State reiterated his strong belief that "it is imperative that the International Community wake-up and commit to a common strategy to combat climate change".
Meetings like this he said "allow us to confront differing viewpoints, with the aim of achieving a shared vision for the future of our planet. Let us work together to show leadership and to lead the world towards a stable future, for all of us".