Africa’s green economy “already underway” says UN man

The move towards a green economy is “already underway” across Africa but it needs to be spurred on by public spending and policy change, the Executive Director of the UN’s […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The move towards a green economy is “already underway” across Africa but it needs to be spurred on by public spending and policy change, the Executive Director of the UN’s Environment Programme said over the weekend.

In a speech at the African Ministerial Conference in Algeria on Saturday, Achim Steiner said a green economy can “improve human well-being and social equity”.

Green energy is being chased already, said the UN official, name-checking several examples: “From harvesting geothermal energy in Kenya and plugging into solar power in Algeria and Tunisia, to investing in green funds in South Africa and building wind projects in Ethiopia.

“Diverse pathways to greener and more inclusive economies are being pursued across the continent.”

But despite the “fast pace” of change Africa’s countries continue to face “persistent challenges”.

Mr Steiner pointed to World Bank figures predicting Africa’s population could jump by roughly 800 million people by 2040.

He said: “A fast-growing urban population, globalization and climate change, alongside a need to boost governance are among the challenges facing Africa if the continent is to put itself firmly on the path to a sustainable future.”

The answer is public and private spending to cut carbon emissions and pollution and protect ecosystems, he added: “These investments need to be catalysed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes.”