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The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) was established in December 1985, following a conference of African ministers of environment held in Cairo , Egypt . Its mandate is to provide advocacy for environmental protection in Africa; to ensure that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner; to ensure that social and economic development is realized at all levels; and to ensure that agricultural activities and practices meet the food security needs of the region.
AMCEN has continued to give guidance in respect of key political events related to the environment, including multilateral environmental agreements. AMCEN has also led the process for the development of the action plan for the Environment Initiative for the New Partnership for Africa 's Development (NEPAD). AMCEN is currently guiding the process for the implementation of the action plan for the environment initiative of NEPAD, including its work programme for the biennium 2005-2006. The Ministerial Conference prompted and encouraged the preparation of the comprehensive regional report on the state of Africa 's environment, Africa Environment Outlook (AEO) , by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The AEO process has been adopted by AMCEN as its instrument for monitoring and reporting on the environment. Additionally, AMCEN successfully facilitated the revision of the 1968 African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Algiers Convention). Measures are being taken to strengthen the linkages between AMCEN and the region's two marine and coastal conventions, namely, the Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern African Region (Nairobi Convention) and the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region (Abidjan Convention).
AMCEN has continued to pay particular attention to the implementation of environmental conventions established in furtherance to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in 1992, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.
The main challenges facing AMCEN are twofold: namely, gross financial difficulties and the rather complex organizational structure adopted by the Ministerial Conference.