Oran, Algeria – The High Level Conference on Green Economy held here last month reaffirmed Africa’s leadership and commitment to pursuing an inclusive low carbon, green economy pathway.
The outcomes were presented in the Oran Declaration, agreed by more than 30 African ministers and 500 participants attending the two-day event (from 22-23 February 2014). The conference underscored the countries’ interest in accelerating an inclusive green economy across the continent, and highlighted key issues that should be addressed, including job creation, technology transfer, poverty eradication and natural resource use.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner was one of the keynote speakers at the conference.
"A green economy transition is already underway in Africa,” he said. “From harvesting geothermal energy in Kenya and plugging into solar power in Algeria and Tunisia, to investing in green funds in South Africa, and building wind projects in Ethiopia, diverse pathways to greener and more inclusive economies are being pursued across the continent."
UNEP describes an inclusive green economy as one that improves human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.Growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investment that reduces carbon emissions and pollution, enhances energy and resource efficiency, and prevents the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
However, Mr Steiner argued, “these investments need to be catalyzed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes.”
In Oran Declaration, African delegates confirmed "their willingness to work for the setting-up of a socially inclusive and fair model of sustainable development and economic growth, which will protect natural resources and environment and meet the needs of present and future generations, through the promotion of models of consumption and sustainable production."
The Oran outcomes were also highlighted at the first global conference on the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), which followed the Algerian event in the United Arab Emirates from 4-5 March.
PAGE was founded by four UN agencies – UNEP, ILO, UNIDO and UNITAR – in response to countries’ demand for assistance in developing their national green economy strategies. At the PAGE event, it was announced that Burkina Faso, Mauritius and Senegal would join the initiative, along with Mongolia and Peru. By 2020, PAGE plans to assist at least 30 countries.
Back in Oran, PAGE partner and UNITAR Executive Director Sally Fegan-Wyles recognized the unprecedented challenges facing countries as they embrace a green economy and the opportunities for learning. “We need to move much faster, if resources can be identified to help address immediate learning needs, through country-driven learning projects” she told the conference.
Read the UNEP Executive Director’s full speech in: