AfDB-UNEP Policy Dialogue on Resources Efficiency in Africa: Opportunities for Development

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) participated in a policy dialogue on “Resources Efficiency in Africa: Opportunities for Development” organized from 24-25 November in Cape Town, South Africa by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, and the Sustainable Institute. The dialogue’s main purpose was to generate input for the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability set up recently by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Co-chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma and Finnish President Tarja Halonen, the High-Level Panel is expected to deliver a report by the end of 2011.

In recognition of the AfDB’s work to support climate-compatible development and a green economy in Africa, UNEP invited the Bank to share its vision on resource efficiency in the African context with the Panel, especially with regards to its initiative to develop a strategy for green growth.

During the dialogue, participants from national, regional and international organizations acknowledged the important work of the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management (Resource Panel) on biofuels, the environmental impact of consumption and production, metal stocks in society, and most importantly, decoupling wealth and resource use from environmental degradation.

The policy dialogue also highlighted challenges and opportunities associated with green economy in Africa, including its relevance and its costs-benefits.
Several key issues emerged:

  • The need, in the context of global economic crisis, to develop policies to address the challenges of economic growth, environmental protection and social stability in Africa, including regulatory and fiscal reforms that leverage public funds to support social investments
  • The necessity to overcome political, financial, technological and institutional barriers to the development and penetration of green, sustainability-oriented technologies in Africa
  • The importance of decoupling economic growth and environmental degradation to enable  African countries to achieve an acceptable level of human development without overloading their environment
  • The need for Africa to transit to greener, less carbon-intensive, and more resource-efficient, development by fostering innovation and adopting other means.

Mr. Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Senior Climate Change Expert at the Bank’s Compliance and Safeguards Division presented a paper on the Bank’s Green Growth Strategy for Africa at the High-Level Panel. The strategy aims to create a political vision and strategic orientation to support Africa’s economic development through efficient use of natural capital and adoption of best practices and sound policies.

The Bank will develop the strategy in partnership with Harvard University with support from GTZ, a German international cooperation enterprise. The design will begin in January 2011 with the development of a draft strategy. This will be followed by the organization of stakeholders’ consultations at national, regional and international levels, the strategy’s adoption by the Bank’s Board of Directors, and the finalization of an implementation action plan by November 2011. Mr. Dorsouma also informed the Panel of the Bank’s establishment of the Africa Green Fund (AGF), an instrument which, if approved by the Board of Directors, will help finance the implementation of the Green Growth Strategy and encourage climate-compatible development in Africa.