South Africa has assumed the chairmanship of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment.

Minister for Environment, Forestries and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, has been appointed as the incoming chairperson for the next two years.

Creecy says she will focus on critical African challenges such as unemployment, food security and climate change.

The announcement was made at the 17th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Durban.

She says African countries engaged each other in a robust discussion on issues affecting the continent, such as climate change.

“Africa is the most vulnerable continent in the world, our position is that it is very important the international community and the developed countries make available resources that will help African countries to implement programmes to meet the national determinant contributions and make sure that they can effect mitigation measures.”

The importance of the ocean economy was emphasised as a means of creating job opportunities.

“We had some discussions on the ocean economy and I think there is recognition in all countries that the ocean economy provides a potential and very important source of food security for African countries. One of the things that we have noted is that there is illegal harvesting ocean economy, particularly fish. And there is a lot of discussion about the importance that we improve governance of the ocean economies.”

Creecy also emphasised the importance of empowering people with knowledge and skills.