Why Africa should champion the crusade on green economy

It is no news that in today’s world of finite resources and ecosystem carrying capacity, the prevailing model of economic growth, founded on ever-increasing consumption of resources and emission of pollutants cannot be sustained any longer.

It is no news that in today’s world of finite resources and ecosystem carrying capacity, the prevailing model of economic growth, founded on ever-increasing consumption of resources and emission of pollutants cannot be sustained any longer.

Sustainable development through a green economy was central to Africa’s consensus statement to the Rio +20 “Earth Summit” in 2012 and Africa’s leaders have emphasized that green growth is critical to Africa’s future.

As President Paul Kagame observed last week in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum annual Summit, nations should not choose between the environment and prosperity.

Twenty three years ago, in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders acceded to the fact that economic development incongruous with the environment would, eventually, lead to its own doom and gloom.

Indeed the world leaders accepted the model of ‘sustainable development’ by spelling out goals and guidelines to achieve harmony between development and the environment.

This article is not about debating whether or not the Rio ‘92’ goals have been met but the single most important achievement of the Rio Earth Summit, formally the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, was to bring the importance of development in tandem with the environment in the mainstream public policy discourse.

In this context, there should be an urgent need to change the way that society manages the interaction of the environmental and economic domains for a sustainable future.

The concern is how to reduce environmental risks and keep the economy green and how growth can be promoted without degrading the natural resource base and with respect for the principles of low-carbon economy.

The concept of green economy has further questioned the conventional measures of development such as gross domestic product (GDP), for being ignorant of the environmental dimension of development.

Dramatic changes in climate and the extensive ‘ecological footprint’ of development clearly demonstrate that such lopsided growth is unsustainable. Green economy approach stands as an effective wayto focuson sustainable development and transforming economic activities and economies.

Important components of the approach include the use of economic instruments, the creation of an investment-friendly environment, and directing public and private investment towards building natural capital stocks.

The United Nations Environment Programme states that “a green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive”

The 2011 Green Economy Report argues that“to be green, an economy must not only be efficient, but also fair. Fairness implies recognizing global and country level equity dimensions, particularly in assuring a just transition to an economy that is low- carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive.”

Rwanda strives in increase of economic benefits of ecosystems and forest resources, Green urbanization awareness, Green City Piloting, Green Innovation Centre and incentives for green technologies and innovations like Green-Smart Villages.

Green-Smart Villages, Muyebe and Rubaya, to mention but a few, will demonstrate contribution to integrated food, water and energy self-sufficiency through the reduction of wood-fuel consumption through biogas generation, save labour time of water collection especially for vulnerable women.

This will be done by harvesting rainwater and increase yields and income by utilizing organic fertilizer from the biogas sludge bi-product and climate-smart agricultural practices.

Although the above initiatives are in place, the Ministry of Natural Resources has constantly placed fundamental changes in patterns of consumption, technology, and agriculture to ensure a sustainable future for the growing population.

Programmes are in place to create sustainable decent jobs, and expand other economic opportunities that benefit the poor, including the informal economy.

Agriculture provides significant opportunities for growth, investment, jobs and feeds our entire population including livestock and bioenergy. Agriculture has one of the highest potentials for reducing carbon emissions and helping vulnerable people adapt to climate change.

The focus has been growth in income and employment driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

As one of many cities in the world, Kigali has the highest population and a centre of human creativity, interaction, economic activity, knowledge, diversity and culture.Here is where a range of environmental and developmental challenges find their crude expression – air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions from transport or energy consumption.

Consequently, investors in the city have an important role to play in the shift to a green economy. Asset owners and fund managers make capital allocation decisions and are key stakeholders in the companies they hold.

Besides, they are well placed to influence the companies to act in a more sustainable manner. In order to promote green economy further, the higher learning institutions must take a lead in reducing fossil fuel based energy consumption research and introduce modest energy consumption behavior as a way of increasing the share of renewable energy.

There is already diversification and enhancement of the resilience of local and national economies including the development and implementation of incentives for investments in large-scale commercial production of green technologies for the local and export markets.

The idea of going green must be communicated and interpreted in a simple way to every citizen who should in turn practice the same. It is by a collective effort that the gains are going to be realized in this cause.

Finally, Africa needs some form of Green New Deal with development partners not just to rescue them from crisis but to ensure that their long-awaited rise is as smooth as it can possibly be and that their countries do not become the last bastion for business-as-usual, but the premier frontier for the green economy.