Bamako (Mali)/Nairobi (Kenya), 28 June 2010 - South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have taken bold initiatives to achieve a green economy transformation. These initiatives were presented at a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) event during the 13th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Bamako, Mali.
The event, which focused on "fostering a Green Economy Transformation in Africa", provided a platform for Ministers and delegates at AMCEN to share experiences on Green Economy initiatives being undertaken in several African countries as well as opportunities and challenges for Africa to achieve a green economic transformation, building on national sustainable development and poverty reduction initiatives that are underway on the continent.
Governments in Africa are starting to engage decisively in mobilizing investments to restore and better reward Africa's valuable socio-economic and environmental assets. Many governments are allocating, to various degrees, portions of their fiscal stimulus to green economic sectors such as renewable energies and energy efficiency improvements, sustainable agriculture, and better management of water and waste.
Following a Green Economy Summit held in May this year in Johannesburg, South Africa has embarked into the development of a Green Economy Plan. The country earlier launched a $ 7.5 billion fiscal stimulus for period 2009-2011 with a primary focus on investments that create more decent jobs, and related to this, investments in infrastructure. Nearly $ 1 billion is being spent in railways, energy efficient buildings, and water and waste management. South Africa has also articulated concepts and principles of a Green Economy into its budgeting process.
Today Kenya is seeking to implement a $ 99 million restoration of the entire Mau Forest Complex, the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem in Kenya covering over 400, 000 hectares. The country has committed to go totally green by 2017 and to restore the forest cover to 10% by 2020. Currently, the government has launched a green energy campaign and mobilized $1 billion to construct a 280MW geothermal power plant.
Rwanda's initiative on forest ecosystem restoration is another landmark in the shift to a low carbon development path. President Paul Kagame received the Energy Globe Award on World Environment Day this year and has through action, featured environment prominently in the country's vision 2020 Plan. Through this Vision 2020 and related poverty reduction strategy, Rwanda has undertaken many initiatives to protect ecosystems for income generation and good governance.
Uganda has taken important steps in transforming its agricultural production into a system of organic farming, with significant implications for its economy, society and the environment. Uganda is among the world's least users of artificial fertilizers with less than 2 per cent or 1kg/ha of the already very low average of 9kg/ha in Sub Saharan Africa. While increasing the level of non-organic fertilizer use is one way of increasing productivity, turning this apparent weakness into an opportunity to pursue an organic form of agricultural production is a policy direction that Uganda is embracing.
On this occasion, UNEP announced a new initiative on Green Economy and Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship Development in Africa, with funding from the European Union, to be launched soon. In working with African countries and regional institutions in Africa, UNEP seeks to support a transition to a green economy and to promote social and environmental entrepreneurship in Africa.
Action under this initiative aims to encourage governments and stakeholders to refocus policies and investment in green economic sectors, such as renewable energies and energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, low-carbon transport, water, forest and fishery resources, and to enhance social and environmental entrepreneurship with a view to strengthening local capacities, delivering green jobs, and contributing to sustainable development and poverty reduction in Africa.
The Green Economy Initiative for Africa will support the development of national green economy strategies by providing platforms for national consultations on Green Economy, building partnerships, enhancing synergy with existing strategies, policies and programmes and supporting Africa's readiness for the Rio+20 Conference.
At the same event, the 2010 SEED Awards for entrepreneurship in sustainable development were launched.
In 2010, as part of the project financed by the European Union, SEED will particularly focus on Africa, making up to 20 awards available for promising social and environmental entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Senegal. In addition, there will be up to 10 awards in South Africa, and up to 5 elsewhere in the developing world
By integrating social and environmental benefits into their business models, social and environmental entrepreneurs help to generate livelihoods and alleviate poverty. But they face considerable challenges along the path to scale up, from developing their business plans and finding funding, to managing their partnerships. The SEED award consists of assistance in these areas, tailored to the particular needs of the winners, profiling winning initiatives nationally and internationally, and networking to other organisations that could help.
Note to editors:
The SEED Initiative is a partnership founded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). SEED Awards are given to outstanding start-up social and environmental entrepreneurs who have innovative solutions to local problems.
Opportunities offered by social and environmental entrepreneurs include long-term sustainability - a business approach with stakeholders; generating new livelihoods; delivering environmental benefits; training people in the community; supporting communities and good governance; preserving local culture and diversity; developing innovative solutions to local problems and helping to drive the green economy.
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel +254 20 7623084, Mobile +254 733 632755 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Angele Luh, Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Africa, Tel: +254 20 7624292; Mobile: +254 (0) 731 666 140; Email: Angele.Luh@unep.org