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Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD) 2014

17-21 November 2014, Washington DC., USA
UNEP Solution Forum at the GSSD Expo 2014      

UNEP has actively participated in previous GSSD Expos and hosted the GSSD Expo 2013 at its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, as the first Expo to be held in the South.

As the immediate former host of the Expo series, UNEP’s participation provides an excellent opportunity to share progress and experience among the participating UN agencies and other partners, and serves as a platform on which to build on partnerships developed at the GSSD Expo 2013. As the voice of the environment in the UN, UNEP will use the Expo to advocate for a world of shared natural resources to achieve both social and economic development for all with the least negative and most positive environmental impacts. Message from UNEP ED on GSSD Expo 2014

The GSSD Expo also provides an important means through which UNEP can follow up on some of the other UN system-wide initiatives and processes, and create linkages with the ongoing debates on the emerging Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNEP’S SOLUTION FORUM - 19 November 2014, 01:30pm - 03:00pm, Hall of the Americas

The GSSD Expo Solution Forums provide a platform for interactive discussions and presentations of successful development solutions. This year, the GSSD Expo seeks to build on the solutions showcased in previous years to exponentially scale them up towards the achievement of internationally-agreed development goals, including the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Along these lines, UNEP will convene a scaling-up Solution Forum that will provide a platform for solution providers, seekers and funders from both the global ‘North’ and ‘South’ to discuss and analyse existing opportunities for South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) in contributing to sustainable development.

UNEP’s scaling-up Solution Forum will focus on the theme, Green Economy for Sustainable Economies. UNEP has defined a green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. From this definition, the Expo provides an opportunity for UNEP to demonstrate that inclusive and equitable green economies in a world where economic development is highly needed, is not just feasible but is key to sustainable development and poverty eradication.

There is growing evidence that developing countries are taking leadership positions with regard to building more sustainable development pathways – ones that demand alternative strategies with new policies and approaches. At the same time there is a global shift in economic power from developed to developing countries, which brings unprecedented opportunities for countries from the South to leapfrog to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economic model. Therefore, UNEP’s Solution Forum will focus on solutions in the areas of energy and urbanization, which are both a challenge and opportunity for countries in the South in the creation of greener and more inclusive economies.

The solutions showcased will address questions such as: why the solution worked in the given environment; the level of developmental impact it generated; what made it successful; and the partnerships involved in implementation and contribution to support mutual learning and scaling up. Governance will also be featured as critical for linking the solutions and ensuring strong partnerships.

UNEP’s work with regional ministerial environmental forums could be one channel for bringing together government sectors and actors for sustainable development planning, including partnership building and SSTC. UNEP serves as the secretariat to six ministerial environment forums, and provides support to seven other regional and sub-regional forums, which have over the years produced 17 regional action plans/strategies for sustainable development.

The panelists for UNEP’s 90-minute Solution Forum will include government representatives as stakeholders in the initiatives, and representatives from the energy and urban sectors (both public and private) from both the ‘North’ and the ‘South’ and whose experience can benefit developing countries.


UNEP’s Solution Forum will present two solutions which demonstrate South-South and Triangular Cooperation, bringing together diverse partners and having significant developmental impact. Furthermore, the Forum will showcase the bankability, exchangeability, scaleability and transferability aspects of the project, and its contributions towards building inclusive green economies.

The moderator, Mr. Manish Bapna, who is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the World Resources Institute (WRI), will introduce the panelists and introduce the solutions. He will then invite the panelists to present their perspective by sharing their experiences in the specific topical areas and in line with the theme. The panelists will have a maximum of eight minutes to present their views. This will be followed by an interactive session with the audience, which includes technical experts, industrial leaders and development practitioners who will interact with the panelists on the sustainable solutions and the means for achieving them for the benefit of current and future generations. Mr. Bapna will close the Forum by providing a summary of the recommendations.


1. The African Rift Geothermal Project (ARGeo): Accelerating and Scaling-up Renewable Energy in Africa In Africa, energy use is under-developed. Although the population of Africa is 15% of the world’s total, its share in the global electricity consumption is less than 5%. This reflects the low level of energy utilization in economic production and in the maintenance of social welfare. Today, only 25% of Africans have access to electricity and over 70% of the population is dependent on traditional biomass fuels. This has caused widespread deforestation, erosion and the loss of fertile agricultural lands.

However, the continent has an abundance of untapped renewable energy resources that include: hydropower, wind, geothermal, solar, bio-fuels and biomass. With a geothermal potential of over 20,000 MW of electricity, the East Africa Rift Valley system is one of the most highly endowed regions on the Earth, yet it is also the least connected with electricity.

It is against this background that the African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) project was founded. Officially launched in 2010, the project aims to promote geothermal resource development and utilization by reducing the various risks involved, attracting investors and lowering the cost of geothermal power development projects.

Implemented by UNEP, Member States and other partners from both the public and private sectors, the project covers six East African countries: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It is also associated with the UN’s “Sustainable Energy for All Initiative”

Under the framework of "Regional Networking and Capacity Building components", ARGeo aims to replicate the success of the initiative in seven other geothermal potential countries i.e.: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.

In addressing the constraints involved in geothermal development, such as high upstream development risks, the innovative strategy by ARGeo will catalyze the exploitation of the existing but untapped geothermal potential, and offer a viable alternative to fossil fuel derived power, while complementing existing hydro-power sources. This is key in the realization of a low-carbon, resource-efficient and an inclusive Green Economy.

Cities as Drivers for Change: Resource Efficient Cities for Sustainable Development > Cities occupy 3% of the land surface, produce 50% of global waste and consume 75% of natural resources. Current projections indicate that by 2050, urbanization, particularly in the global South, will have expanded by 60% of the current population. And over 90% of this growth in the urban population is projected to happen in the developing world. This means that that there is increased pressure on natural resources, and integrated policies, improved governance and innovative solutions to improve the lives of the growing urban population will be essential.

UNEP, through the Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities (GI-REC), is leading the charge in supporting cities in their transition to sustainability. Launched in June 2012 at the Rio+20 Summit, GI-REC works with different stakeholders to also make the business case for resource-efficient cities. The overall goal of GI-REC is to enhance the quality of life in urban areas, particularly in the rapidly growing cities in developing countries, while minimizing resource extraction, energy consumption and waste generation and safeguarding ecosystem services. And efficient resource management in cities provides opportunities to address environmental, economic and social challenges at the same time. Resource efficiency is ultimately key for cities to move towards a Green Economy and contribute to global sustainability, while supporting the climate change agenda.

As a component for scaling-up using SSC, the GI-REC contributes to city sustainability by building upon its regional workshops in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bangkok (Thailand), Cape Town (South Africa), Medellin (Colombia) and Shenzhen (China) and engaging cities in pilot projects focused on urban resource efficiency.

In conceptualizing cities as the drivers for sustained change in a rapidly urbanizing world, this initiative will ensure that cities, and by extension, global populations, realize the economic, social and environmental benefits of resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production, ultimately generating sustainable economies.

Activities under GI-REC feed into the UNEP-UN Habitat Greener Cities Partnership, which couples resource efficiency with urban and spatial planning, targeting sustainable transport and water issues as key sectors for city actions. UNEP's new partnership with the World Council on City Data (WCCD) will also help cities to strengthen their capacity to measure their resource flows and in turn make informed decisions on low-carbon, resource-efficient infrastructural investments in their path towards scaling up local sustainability. UNEP and WCCD are also working together to encourage cities to adopt the first international city standard indicator for city services and quality of life.