AfDB-WWF Partnership: Several Projects Already Underway

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The World Wildlife Fund and the African Development Bank announced the progress made in the partnership between them that was signed in July 2011 to promote green growth at the climate change conference, or COP, in Durban.

The overall aim of the joint venture is to promote knowledge-sharing between developing countries to further the cause of sustainable economic growth, or green growth.

James Leape, the director-general of WWF International, said: “Perhaps our first challenge is to define what ‘green growth’ actually is.

He went on to explain: “There is a lot of consternation generated by the perception that a sustainable economy compromises development.  We have to find a path to ensure economic growth in a sustainable manner, a challenge that is acute in Africa where 70 percent of people live off agriculture, and where millions of people lack access to clean, safe and affordable energy.”

"This is an important partnership with WWF,” said African Development Bank Vice President, Kamal Elkheshen. “There are already several projects under way – some are already bearing fruit while more are in the planning stage.”

Elkheshen listed five main questions regarding green growth in Africa.  Why is green growth important for Africa? What will Africa gain from adopting green growth? Why it is relevant? What to include in a green growth strategy? What are the challenges associated with green growth?

He then reviewed the linkages between sustainability, efficiency and job creation.  He also outlined that green growth is about moving away from a natural resource based economy to value addition - a move away from non-sustainable modes of production.

However, he added that the entire framework depended on African governments creating an enabling environment, designing the right policies and ensuring inclusiveness.

“Green growth is about moving away from a natural resource base to value addition, a move away from non-sustainable modes of production and the creation of jobs,” he explained.  Elkheshen added that the entire framework depending on African governments adopting a responsible industrial policy.   

Karsten Sachs from Germany’s environment ministry agreed: “The government needs to adopt a green strategy and to commit to definite targets,”

He cited the German experience:  “The problem then is how to convince your people to agree.  What we did in Germany was we used the economic argument.  Many of the technologies we developed created jobs in new areas of local and regional production.  But it needs clear legal frameworks.  You need to build capacity in your own countries and make choices about what is best for you.”

Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative added:  “This is not just about targets for emissions and carbon sequestration.  It is also about job creation and development.  Many countries have developed industrial models that move away from carbon use, while creating jobs.  A green economy is also focused on equity, bringing energy to people who don’t have that access.”

Tom Awiyo, from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, commented:  “So how does green growth differ from sustainable development?  We can show that the two are consistent.  There must be three pillars:  economic growth, environmental sustainability, and inclusive growth.”

He detailed the challenges: “We only need to look at the provision of energy – only 31 percent of urban Africans and 14 percent of rural Africans have access to electricity.  This has consequences for health, for empowerment, for resource management.  Provision of electricity has potential for growth.  Same with agriculture – 60 percent of unexploited crop land is in Africa.”

“The good news is that we can create a new development model in Africa that is not going to demand sacrifice from its people,” said Leape in conclusion.  “We need to drive efficiency and shift to energy supplies that are free, such as wind and solar energy.  A better economy is one that is built of a better way of doing things, with a premium on industrial policy, investing in infrastructure, and obtaining finance.  All of us need to change our assumptions about what is possible.