The Alliance for Science forges partnership to strengthen environmental governance

Ake Mamo

March 11, 2024

In a landmark move, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Alliance for Science (AfS) have entered into a partnership agreement to bolster technical collaboration among policymakers, civil society, and the scientific community. The announcement was made on February 26, 2024, on the margins of the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Assembly brings together ministers, intergovernmental organizations, UN entities, civil society, the scientific community, and the private sector to shape global environmental policy. With over 7,000 delegates estimated to have attended, it underscored the urgency of addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and waste.

Dr Sheila Ochugboju and Prof Patricia Kameri-Mbote signing the MoU in Nairobi.
Dr Sheila Ochugboju and Prof Patricia Kameri-Mbote signing the MoU on February 26, 2024, in Nairobi, Kenya. [Manyara Kinoti]

The agreement between AfS and UNEP signals a concerted effort to combat misinformation, promote ecological enhancement, and support biodiversity conservation. Signed by Dr Sheila Ochugboju, Executive Director of the Alliance for Science, and Professor Patricia Mbote, Director of the UNEP Law Division, the Memorandum of Understanding underscores the commitment to integrate impactful environmental initiatives, amplifying the voices of civil society and non-state actors dedicated to conservation and sustainable resource management.

The partnership assumes significance in the face of mounting environmental challenges, particularly in Africa. The region is disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters, as highlighted in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. From floods to droughts, the impacts are dire, necessitating collaborative efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Under the strategic collaboration, The Alliance for Science will work closely with UNEP’s Africa Office to support regional platforms addressing climate challenges. This includes initiatives such as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN), as well as preparations for the annual UNFCCC Climate Talks.

The Alliance for Science also serves as the Secretariat for the South-South Collaboration for Innovations group under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This group, comprising 17 countries from various regions, aims to foster collaborative research and innovation in biotechnology to address food security, climate change, and biodiversity conservation.

The partnership will focus on three key areas:

  • Building resilience: Advocacy campaigns to promote resilience-building measures.
  • Strengthening inclusivity: Introducing the Africa Young Environmentalists Network (AYEN) through Project ReBirth.
  • Promoting collaboration: Facilitating collaboration among South-South countries for innovative solutions.

An integral part of this partnership also involved introducing and launching the Africa Young Environmentalists Network (AYEN) by founding coordinator Jote Teodor Cika, focusing on strengthening inclusivity in environmental initiatives across the African continent. AYEN aims to empower young environmentalists, providing them a platform to actively engage in environmental advocacy, policy formulation, and implementation. AYEN will collaborate with UNEP’s Africa Office and other stakeholders to align its activities with regional priorities and leverage existing platforms for youth engagement in environmental conservation.

AfS-UNEP MoU signing.
From left: Africa Young Environmentalists Network Founding Coordinator Jote Teodor Cika, AfS Deputy Executive Director Michael Onyango and AfS Executive Director Dr Sheila Ochugboju.[Manyara Kinoti]

Prof Patricia Mbote emphasized the significance of collaboration at the science-policy interface, particularly within the legal fraternity. She highlighted the Alliance for Science’s role in strengthening the capacity of legal professionals to address scientifically polarizing issues.

UNEP-AfS MoU signing
Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote, UNEP Law Division Director. [Manyara Kinoti]

Dr Rose Mwebaza stressed the importance of technical experts proficient in science communication. She underscored the need to effectively engage key stakeholders to find consensus solutions for our shared future.

UNEP-AfS MoU signing
Dr Rose Mwebaza, Regional Director and Africa Representative for UNEP. [Manyara Kinoti]

Dr Sheila Ochugboju highlighted the critical convening role played by the Africa Office at UNEP in global environmental discussions and negotiations. She expressed hope for expanding the reach and impact of implementation activities through collaboration with partners and like-minded organizations.

UNEP-AfS MoU signing
Dr Sheila Ochugboju, Alliance for Science Executive Director. [Manyara Kinoti]

This partnership between UNEP and the Alliance for Science marks a significant milestone in global environmental efforts. With a shared vision of promoting science-based solutions and fostering collaboration, this alliance sets the stage for transformative action towards a sustainable future.


Ake Mamo is the Communications Director at the Alliance for Science.