The third edition of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, scheduled to be held next week in hybrid format with sessions online and in person, aims to develop context-specific and action-oriented recommendations to advance a transformative green post Covid-19 recovery agenda in Africa and propose measures and actions that ensure the continent achieves peace, development, and climate goals.
The forum is being held amid pressing challenges, including the war in Ukraine which has raised concerns about food security across Africa, climate change, and population displacement. It is estimated that by 2050 more than 85 million African citizens will be forced to move because of climate change, explained Ahmed Abdel-Latif, executive director of the forum and director-general of the Cairo International Centre for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Peace building (CCCPA), which is acting as secretariat to the forum.
Aswan Forum III is special, says Abdel-Latif, because it is a stop on the way to the 27th Session of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh in November this year. It will place special emphasis on the interface between climate change and sustaining peace in Africa and focus on the links between peace and climate change, displacement and climate change, and the role of women and youth in developing solutions. It is also scheduled to present a field study on Nigeria’s experience in facing terrorism.
The forum’s third edition, held under the theme Africa in an Era of Cascading Risks and Climate Vulnerability: Pathways for a Peaceful, Resilient, and Sustainable Continent, will bring together leaders from regional and international organisations, business, civil society, and experts from a range of sectors, and feature a youth dialogue that will focus on empowering youth-led climate responses for sustaining peace and development.
African priorities — including enhancing cooperation to combat terrorism, overcome the effects of the pandemic, achieve food security and advance post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts — are among the foci.
The Aswan Forum, explained Abdel-Latif, is “a platform which Egypt initiated to allow African governments, research centres, and other parties to meet”.
“Each forum is part of an ongoing process that begins before the forum convenes and continues after it ends.”
By the end of the third edition participants are expected to produce a list of action-oriented recommendations, and in the course of the sessions will follow up on the implementation of the recommendations produced by the second edition.
“If we follow developments in the Covid-19 file, for instance, we will find that a number of African countries have started producing their own vaccines rather than importing vaccines from outside the continent,” says Hamdi Loza, deputy foreign minister for African affairs.
In preparing for the forum the CCCPA conducted a series of webinars the first of which, Financing for Peacebuilding in Peacekeeping and Transition Contexts, was conducted in October, and the last, From the Agenda for Peace to the New Agenda for Peace, in May.
Loza points to the establishment of the African Union Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (AU-PCRD Centre) as one of the achievements of the Aswan Forum and a sign of the importance Egypt places on post-conflict reconstruction and development. The agreement to establish the centre was signed on the sidelines of the first edition of Aswan Forum and it officially opened in temporary headquarters in Cairo last year. It is expected to move to permanent premises in the New Administrative Capital by the end of 2022.
Egypt took the initiative to launch the Aswan Forum during its presidency of the African Union in 2019.
“We witnessed huge regional and international interest in the forum in its first and second editions,” says Loza, because it reflects African perspectives on the problems facing the continent.
“We are keen to maintain the level of interest by facilitating in-depth and practical discussions during the third edition and we are exerting every effort to reach practical recommendations that can be implemented on the ground.”
A version of this article appears in print in the 16 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.