UNDP-UNEP initiative help African countries move towards green economy

Governments focus on public resource allocation for pro-poor sustainability

By Moushumi Sharma
Published: Wednesday 27 August 2014

The Poverty-Environment Initiative has been assisting nine African countries since 2005 to take practical steps to improve livelihoods and create sustainable growth

While many countries of the world are still recovering from the global financial crisis of 2008-09, a few African nations are moving towards a green economy. The countries of Botswana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania have initiated practical steps towards an inclusive, pro-poor green economy, according to a report  by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This agency, along with the United Nations Development Programme, launched the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), which has been working in these nine countries since 2005. This global initiative assists governments to manage the environment in a way that improves livelihoods and leads to sustainable growth.

According to the report, the economic valuations of natural resources and the environment have paved the way for green economy investment in the countries, which has also prompted favourable action by a number of PEI-supported governments. In Mauritania, for example, the findings were used to advocate the integration of poverty-environment related objectives into the National Poverty Reduction Strategy, the report says. On the other hand, in countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Mozambique, the cost of unsustainable natural resource use was found equivalent to 17-22 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP). The report points out that only when such numbers are accepted and understood, various branches of the government can push for policy reforms.

In Mali, for instance, environmental expenditure was estimated to be 1 per cent of the country’s GDP, while the costs of inaction with regards to environmental sustainability amount to 21 per cent of the GDP. Thus, there is higher return from investing in sustainable natural resource use. Making this reality known has prompted positive action from the Ministries of Planning and Finance, who are now willing to increase investment in sustainability. This is evident from the fact that in five of the PEI-supported countries, public resource allocations for pro-poor environmental sustainability have increased since the start of the programme, the report says.

Vietnam follows low-carbon path

Meanwhile, the World Bank has lauded the leadership efforts of Vietnam to tackle climate change and adopt a green growth strategy. During a series of meetings with Vietnam’s president and prime minister, World Bank Group vice president and special envoy in charge of climate change Rachel Kyte urged the country to continue to forge ahead on a low-carbon and resilient growth path. According to a press release  by the World Bank, Vietnam has paid high attention to build resilience of vulnerable areas like the Mekong Delta which is particularly vulnerable to disaster risks and impacts of climate change. “Vietnam’s leadership in climate action, green growth and building resilience is widely recognised. Moreover, Vietnam recognises the need to coordinate climate action at the highest level and we look forward to continuing to work together to tackle the climate challenge,” the press release quotes Kyte.

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