The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says that investing in effective management of environmental assets is critical to reducing poverty and hunger and spur inclusive growth in Africa.
The statement was made by Ms Fatima Denton, Director, Special Initiatives Division, at the opening of the 10th session of the ECA Committee on Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
She also advocated for a green transformation and an industrialisation that would not harm the environment, adding that climate change constituted a double-edged sword for the continent.
“It could constitute Africa’s greatest potential to adapt to impacts and to usher in a new model of sustainable development. On the other hand, it could also decimate African fragile economies, thus compromising its ability to realise several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
However, reducing Africa’s carbon emissions would not harm our economy,’’ she added.
The meeting also discussed how the strong economic growth in the past decade in many African countries had failed to make a significant impact on their poverty levels.
Denton, however, noted that there were still many solutions as there were problems.
She appealed for a radical reconfiguration of Africa’s economies away from agricultural practices that were holding hostage many of the hard-working small-holder farmers.
She noted that the smallholder farmers were unable to adopt modern practices that would transform their businesses into viable enterprises.
“The implementation of 17 sustainable development goals is part of the solutions to Africa’s challenges because they advocate for qualitative development that places people at the centre stage.”
The meeting also discussed how the natural resource management, innovation and technology could spur remarkable development on the continent.
According to her, close to 200 million Africans lead insecure lives due to climate change as their livelihoods depend on climate sensitive economic sectors.
She said that the continent lost an estimated 68 billion dollars per year due to soil degradation, affecting 180 million people in Africa.