Africa Day International Conference brings together participants from 50 countries
The 12th Africa Day International Conference, held under the theme "Africa and Europe: Climate Security for the Future – Global Challenges, Local Actions", brought to Slovenia the largest ever number of participants. At the Brdo pri Kranju Congress Centre, around 350 participants from 50 countries, of which 24 are on the African continent, discussed climate security and possible solutions.
This year's Africa Day conference was timed to coincide with International Earth Day on 22 April. The second day of the conference, which highlighted technological and scientific efforts towards climate and environmental security by showcasing innovative Slovenian solutions, opened with the addresses by the Minister of the Economy and the Minister of the Environment. Matjaž Han, Minister of the Economy, Tourism and Sport, highlighted the importance of resilient economies in relation to climate security, while Uroš Brežan, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, called for strengthening local actions and nature-based solutions to increase resilience to climate change.
Several Slovenian technological and scientific institutions presented their innovations in the panel "Smart business solutions for ecological security". The Centre of Excellence for Space, Science and Technology works in the field of space technologies. Their interactive microsatellites are involved in the observation of what is happening on the Earth's surface and their responsiveness makes them useful in early fire detection, for example. GeoCodis has been working with several African countries for many years on water monitoring for the needs of agriculture. The Institute for Environmental Protection and Sensors focuses on the reuse of textile and plastic waste in a circular way. The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Blue Economy, which is part of the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI), presented its eco-solutions.
In order to strengthen economic cooperation with African countries, the conference also featured presentations by Slovenia's business clubs with Zambia, Ghana, Tunisia, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon.
The two-day Africa Day International Conference with the participation of a large number of representatives of the Slovenian Government and African governments, experts, researchers, economists, think tanks, students and the African diaspora was rounded off by an address by State Secretary Samuel Žbogar. He thanked the co-organisers, the speakers and the participants. "The conference confirmed the importance of climate security", he said, expressing his satisfaction with the strong economic and cultural component of the event.
State Secretary Žbogar called for a strengthened role for the UN Security Council in addressing this global challenge, as well as for climate security to be systematically integrated into the discussions of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).
He called for action at all levels: diplomatic efforts and action at local level, as well as the search for sustainable solutions, and stressed the importance of involving women and other stakeholders in environmental policies.
On the margins of the conference, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon held several bilateral meetings, including with Malawi's Foreign Minister Nancy Tembo, Rwanda's Foreign Minister Vincent Biruto, Cabo Verde's Foreign Minister Rui Alberto de Figueiredo Soares, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Union of the Comoros, Dhoihir Dhoulkamal.
The Africa Day conference will be followed by a three-day seminar (24–26 April) on capacity building in climate change, peace and security. Organised by the Peace Operations Training Centre (POTC) and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the seminar will provide participants, including many representatives of African countries, with insights into security risks associated with climate change.