African countries urged on green growth agenda


Ruhamya. / File

With African countries steadily working their way to transformation, environmentalists have again reiterated the need to take into account green growth—to avoid future climate catastrophes that might result from environmentally hazardous decision.

Green growth is the means by which development can take shape without affecting the efficiency of natural resources. It is termed as the transition to a sustainable economy while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, minimising waste and inefficient use of natural resources, maintaining biodiversity, and strengthening energy security.

Frank Rijsberman, the Director General of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), told Inter Press Service that it is imperative that governments work to address barriers with financiers.

While speaking at the just concluded weeklong GGGI Week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Rijsberman said that establishment of green cities, renewable energy and climate resilient agriculture in Africa should be “priorities” for the continent if it is to mitigate climate change.

“The most important thing is that the quality of growth really matters,” Rijsberman said.

“We know we need growth to fight poverty but when you have growth, growth, growth that is unchecked, you get what you see in Asia where cities are dealing with fine dust, with toxic air pollution which kills people. In Ulaanbaatar [in Mongolia], which had a wonderful growth spurt, last winter they had a state of emergency because you could hardly breathe the air,” he said.

“So the quality of growth for us really matters. Green growth for us is growth that is sustainable and inclusive. So it is not about large plantations that push small farmers out. It is growth that actually provides jobs to young people, which obviously are desperately needed,” he added.

The GGGI boss also noted that renewable energy revolution should be facilitated to take shape if developing countries can achieve inclusive growth.

“We had sessions here (in Ethiopia) where people said renewable energy is a revolution for Africa just like mobile phones were ten years before. Renewable energy is becoming the cheapest form of energy. It is no longer about big centralised grids. It has also democratised energy,” Rijsberman added.

GGGI is already working with the Rwandan government to leverage sustainable development gains in green urbanisation and secondary city development.

At the gathering, Coletha Ruhamya, the Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), and Coordinator of the Rwanda Green Fund, Alex Mulisa, shared insights on how the country has engaged with international climate finance institutions, such as the Green Climate Fund, and how Rwanda is working with the private sector to drive sustainable development.

During the session titled, “Greening African Cities: Achieving a Green Urban Transformation,” officials spoke of how maintaining and leveraging the value of national resources is a challenge many developing countries face.

Participants also shared the experience on how to manage the world’s most valuable assets in the fast-growing economies such as Rwanda.

“The Greening African Cities session identified innovative ideas that will help unlock finance for green investments in Rwanda’s secondary cities,” Innocent Kabenga, GGGI Rwanda Country Representative, told The New Times.

GGG Week 2017 gathered GGGI members, stakeholders from the public and private sectors, international organisations, and civil society with view to strengthen and catalyse green growth in Africa and globally in order to achieve nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement and make progress on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

The meeting, according to Kabenga, addressed a number of key issues, including: Mobilising green/climate finance to bankable projects in developing countries; sustainably managing resources to address water and food security challenges; and developing and adopting policies that drive environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth.

Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) and GGGI have been working together in support of the country’s sustainable development objectives. GGGI has supported the fund by contributing to a business and sustainability plan, designing risk reduction instruments to mobilise resources using the fund’s existing project portfolios and by enhancing the capacity of the fund.