Monday, April 16, 2012

Climate Change and Green Economies – where is West Africa in preparation for Rio+20?

Monday, April 16, 2012
By: Emmanuel Duker, Ghana.

Participants at the YPWC event that developed
the Kumasi Consensus

The Big Question here is “has there been commitment from the Leaders of all the sixteen West African Countries with regards to the preparation for Rio + 20?” There is convincing evidence that a swift transition to a Green Economy can bring about lasting solutions to current problems and mitigate the effects of climate change in the world. 

Green economy is positively perceived in most sectors of our national life today e.g. energy efficiency, transport, land and water use plans, green buildings, renewable energy etc. Climate change discussions have in particular heightened the desire for the green economy in West Africa. 

All the major groups of countries in West Africa are calling for a comprehensive preparatory process, to ensure that the Rio+20 Conference can adequately address existing implementation deficits and emerging issues in sustainable development, with a view to further strengthening international cooperation. 

On August 10th 2011, over 50 youth activists from five nations in West Africa gathered in Ghana and came up with a document, “the Kumasi Consensus” to be presented to Governments and Nongovernmental Organisations to facilitate the preparation of Rio +20 in Brazil. This was organized by “Young People We Care” in Collaboration with Peace Child International. The document was developed because of concerns that West Africa was not adequately prepared for the conference in Brazil. The document complements the current momentum towards a green economy by campaigning towards energy innovations for a low carbon future that will help to eradicate poverty, create green jobs and build a sustainable future. 

The preparations in West Africa need shoring-up and believe that international meetings are insufficient to discuss and negotiate the wide range of issues covered. Developing countries in Africa need to undertake in-country preparatory processes involving a wide range of stakeholders. Ghana for example will need to carry out a country assessment, updating its country profiles on the Agenda 21 themes and effectively participate in Prepcom 3 in particular in 2012 in Brazil. 

The spirit for Rio+20 is weak and the pace too slow when one compares preparations for this summit to the World Summit on Sustainable Development of 2002. This in my view signals that Rio+20 may after all not really address the deficits and the emerging issues as most Government, Civil Society Groups, Activist and experts have been championing. 

There is need to rekindle the Rio spirit through renewed political commitment to sustainable development, despite the increasing challenges in recent times by events such as the global financial crisis and economic recession, the food and energy crises, climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, water scarcity and natural disasters. 

Even though the definition of a green economy is still evolving, we safely go by the opinions expressed in definitions such as that it is an economy or economic development modelled or based on sustainable development and knowledge of ecological economics. Therefore a green economy needs to be understood in the context of sustainable development and consistent with the Rio principles. 

Institutional frameworks for sustainable development that ensure political commitment for West Africa must be renewed and efforts redoubled so that institutions currently involved in implementing the sustainable development agenda within the United Nations system would became more efficient and effective, through improved synergies and the provision of adequate resources. One of the most important things for Africa as a whole is to assure young people the opportunity to make a difference by encouraging green business and social enterprise start-ups in communities and regions, planting trees, cleaning up litter and maintaining uncontaminated water sources. The region must also commit to raising awareness, educating and advocating for a green economy in our families, schools, colleges, faith and community groups, our elected officials, and private sector companies.

Emmanuel Duker is a Youth Activist, Media/Publicity Officer  for Young People We Care (YPWC Ghana)  and the Country Coordinator for Network of African You for Development (NAYD – Ghana) from Ghana, a results oriented young man who puts excellence at the forefront of every task assigned and is taken to detail and accuracy. With a very high level of efficiency and reliability there is a profound sense or desire to deliver and help others develop themselves in a manner so as to be able to achieve something without having to rely on others. There is also an element of purpose to give back to society while sustaining present resources for future generations to discover and develop.

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Editorial Team.

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