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AWEPA EU Presidency Seminar in Dublin. Africa’s Development Future: land, hope and hunger

27 - 28 June 2013

The Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) together with its Irish Section is proud to host the EU Presidency seminar “Africa’s Development Future: land, hope and hunger” at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin from 27 – 28 June, with speakers including H.E. the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, as well as a number of high level speakers from Africa’s regional parliamentary bodies, such as Hon. Henri Gbone, representative of the President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon. Margaret Zziwa, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and Hon. Vincent Mavoungou, President of the Parliament of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC-P).
Irish EU Presidency seminar banner

Dublin, Ireland – Parliamentarians are crucial partners for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for their duty is to ensure that these are reflected in national plans, legislation and budget. The abilities of Sub-Saharan countries to meet food and poverty targets are being threatened by increasing foreign purchases of land and water resources, also known as “land grabs”.

On Thursday 27 and Friday 28 June, AWEPA brought together more than 150 parliamentarians, policy makers and experts from across Africa and Europe in the Irish EU Presidency seminar “Africa’s Development Future: land, hope and hunger”. The seminar promoted dialogue and initiatives on the role, responsibility and efforts of both European and African parliamentarians concerning land ownership, water scarcity and chronic hunger. The focus was on Millennium Development Goal One (MDG 1); to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015.

Amongst African participants, a delegation from the Pan African Parliament, represented by Hon. Henri Gbone, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources, Rural Economy and Environment, attended the event. There was also representatives from all four African sub-regional parliaments which AWEPA collaborates with in the framework of its programme ¨Strengthening regional parliaments towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals¨.

Hon. Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Hon. Abdool Razack Mohamed Ameen Peeroo, Chairman of the Parliamentary Forum of the Southern African Development Community (SADC-PF), and the President of the Parliament of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC-P), Hon. Vincent Mavoungou, all joined us.   

The EU Presidency seminar provided a unique opportunity to identify best policy practices in relation to land grabs in Africa as well as discuss specific parliamentary actions to support African countries in turning their potential into clear development outcomes. For instance, if well managed, the support of the agricultural sector could potentially trigger sustainable economic growth, food security and employment. These best practices was identified from the perspective of AWEPA’s Aid Effectiveness Programme, and discussion focused on identifying parliamentary strategies to help attain MDG 1 and to shape the post-2015 development agenda.

The event was split over two days. The first day opened with an overview of the conference presented by a distinguished panel, including H.E. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, who professed himself to hope that Europe would not allow the “current economic difficulties to undermine its commitment on the great global challenges of our day – hunger, poverty, and human rights”. The panel also included Hon. Henri Gbone (Pan-African Parliament), Maureen O’Sullivan TD, Head of AWEPA Irish Section, and Hon. Minister of State of Belgium and President of AWEPA, Miet Smet. The second day offered a greater change for discussion and optimism, with sessions entitled “Are there hopeful signs?” and Africa’s Future Reassessed: “Is there cause for optimism?”

This Seminar was part of AWEPA’s “Strengthening Regional Parliaments towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals” programme and was made possible by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).