Building capacity to help Africa trade better

UN urges legal interventions to transition Africa to green economy


UN urges legal interventions to transition Africa to green economy

UN urges legal interventions to transition Africa to green economy
Photo credit: World Bank

Africa urgently requires policies and regulatory frameworks to be able to resolve threats posed by environmental degradation to fasten a switch to green economy, a UN official said on Thursday.

Dirk Wagener, the UN Environment Coordinator for Resource Efficiency Program said the governments have to collaborate with the private sector to help address the challenges to be able to be at par with other continents.

“Policies and regulatory frameworks are necessary to create the incentives to develop green businesses and to mainstream Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) practices,” Wegener said at the launch of Kenya Switch Africa Green (SAG) Networking Forum in Nairobi.

Wegener observed that policies should be combined with support that enables producers and consumers to adopt more environment and climate friendly practices.

“This can be done by nurturing eco-innovation and green business development, helping firms to capture opportunities for reducing or changing their resource use, minimizing waste, developing and marketing new products and services, and increasing demand for such products and services,” he added.

He said that since the launch of SAG in Africa, the project has supported 34 grantees with financial and technical support amounting to 11.5 million U.S dollars in terms of grants disbursed across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda.

The grants were given in agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and integrated waste management that cuts across energy efficiency, labelling and standards, water efficiency, eco-innovation and sustainable trade sectors.

“All these SAG efforts in the six countries have promoted green business development in the continent,” he noted.

In Kenya, the priority sectors that ranges from agriculture, tourism and manufacturing that received a grant of 1.75 million dollars are already key game changing sectors in the transition to green economy.

The grantees are Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) led Leather and Leather Products Institute, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Production (CCSP) and International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

The grantees are working on transforming and making the leather sector profitable, enhancing capacity for green business development and eco-entrepreneurship in agricultural sector, enhancing sustainable tourism innovation for community empowerment and up-scaling sustainable commercial production of medicinal plants by community-based conservation groups at Kakamega forest in Western Kenya respectively.

Each national grantee received a grant of 250,000 dollars each that has so far benefited more than 500 entrepreneurs in Kenya to support green business development.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Professor Judi Wakhungu revealed that SAG has promoted the use of the once discarded as wastes.

“Leather off cuts from shoes are now being used in making sandals, bracelets and dog collar, while bananas and peels are being used for producing jams and wine,” she revealed.

Wakhungu cautioned African governments to stop deriving economies from by acres of land under irrigation but the amount of produce derived from unit of water.

SAG project that was created in 2013 is funded by the European Union (EU) to support African countries in their transition to an inclusive green economy.

Wegener said that Africa’s strong growth is projected to continue in the medium-term due to increasing domestic demand, driven mainly by the rising middle class, improving regional business environment and macroeconomic management.

Other factors included increasing public investment, a buoyant services sector and robust trade and investment ties with emerging economies.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will become the main source of new entrants into the global labor force in the next 20 years,” he added.

He observed that the region is in a position to benefit from its demographic dividend if policies are focused on a set of interlinked actions, including fostering private sector development to increase the number of non-agricultural jobs, bridging the infrastructure and human capital gaps.

“The continent requires a great leap in economic performance that is sustainable, inclusive, and transformative and the green economy investment is one way to achieve this,” he added.


Green Economy investment is one of the ways through which Kenya can achieve economic growth that is sustainable, inclusive, and transformative.

GESIP is Kenya’s blueprint in advancing towards a low-carbon, resource efficient, equitable and inclusive socio-economic transformation. This builds upon Kenya’s commitment to a Low-Carbon Development Pathway and represents an advancement of this commitment to integrate resource use efficiency and minimizing environmental impacts into Kenya’s economic development. Of significance, Kenya has developed this strategy at a time when Kenya’s economic development and social well being of its citizens is under growing threats from climate change, environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources.

“The launch of the Green Economy Strategy is most significant because it marks a new dispensation in socio-economic planning for Kenya,” said Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Kenya’s journey toward a truly inclusive green economy continues and many challenges remain. The interest and commitment of the Government, private sector, and civil society to support a sustainable and inclusive future is crucial. It is our responsibility as individuals and stakeholders to continue to put sustainability and equity at the heart of our economic decision making,” said H.E. Mette Knudsen, Danish Ambassador to Kenya.

SWITCH Africa Green is one of the major initiatives implementing the actions envisioned in this strategy seeking to support Kenya in achieving sustainable development by engaging in the transition towards an inclusive green economy, which generates growth, creates jobs and reduces poverty. Supported by the European Union, SWITCH Africa Green works with four grantees in the private sector positively impacting about 500 MSMEs a majority of whom are youth and women. In Kenya, SWITCH Africa Green focuses on Agriculture, Manufacturing and Tourism as priority sectors.

The SAG Networking Forum provides a critical platform for distilling knowledge from the SAG project implementation for wider replication and facilitate policy uptake. Further, through its social platform it affords an avenue to facilitate sharing of best practices and project related knowledge on eco-entrepreneurship, SCP and GE policies and tools amongst key stakeholders. There shall be an exhibition from various MSMEs and entrepreneurs drawn from both the private and public sectors on various green technologies.

“SWITCH Africa Green has demonstrated that it is possible for micro, small, and medium enterprises to green their businesses through the application of sustainable consumption and production practices. We look forward to continue supporting the Government of Kenya in its transition to an inclusive green economy,” said Dirk Wagener, UN Environment.

WWF-Kenya’s CEO Mohamed Awer Iauded the Kenyan Government for taking an initial step in redefining the country’s development trajectory saying, GESIP will be instrumental in informing decisions in making choices towards a low carbon development ambition in Kenya.”

» Related:  pdf Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy 2017-2026 (2.42 MB)  (PDF, 2.41 MB)


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