Satellite image

Satellite image



This blog was started in May 2012, one month before the United Nations Rio+20 ‘Earth Summit’ where the green economy was the main theme. The blog so far has had three specific objectives.

In the run-up to the Rio+20 Summit the initial objective was to raise awareness of Africa’s huge green growth potential and role in rebalancing the global economy. Eight posts were published before the Summit and were sent to as many African environment ministries as possible. One post was published in August 2012 appraising the summit and Africa’s position: Africa, Rio+20 and the Green Road Ahead.

The second objective was to examine the case of Ethiopia, following the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi on 21 August 2012. At the time of his death Mr Meles was recognised as 'the voice of Africa' at international summits and conferences and a leader in Africa's green thinking. Four posts on Ethiopia were published between late August and early November 2012 exploring the paradoxical nature of his leadership with a focus on raising awareness of his green legacy and 21st century vision for Ethiopia and Africa.

The third and current objective is to raise awareness of the importance of the green economy in Africa's growth story. 2013 started with unprecedented optimism for Africa’s growth prospects. Summits, conferences, articles, books, blogs, films and other media now proclaim that 'Africa’s Moment' has arrived. But very few even mention the green economy as an essential tool in the process to achieve sustainability and resilience. For this reason the current focus of this blog is a call to action to 'put the green economy into Africa’s growth story'.

Part of this call to action is writing letters to the Financial Times. Not only does the FT have excellent coverage of Africa but it is also seen by many as the 'world's most influential newspaper'.

Thursday, 23 August 2012


Since Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, died on 20 August there has been an outpouring of opinion on his legacy.  On 21 August, Mark Tran wrote on the UK Guardian’s Global Development site, Poverty Matters blog: “Ethiopia's renaissance under Meles Zenawi tainted by authoritarianism.”  As a response I sent to the Comments section an edited version of my post below – The paradox of Meles Zenawi – where my main message was that 21 years years of Meles Zenawi has created foundations for Ethiopia to build a green renaissance. Jaz Cummins the community co-ordinator on the site replied: “Are you hopeful there is going to be a move towards this?" Here is my answer:

Three things need to happen for me to be hopeful that Ethiopia can bring about a Green Renaissance and become a global leader in the green economy:

First, Ethiopia’s new leadership can quickly reassure the country’s worried populations, neighbours and allies by “rethinking” development strategies, which Mr Meles advocated in 2009, particularly some of those envisaged in its 2011-2015 Growth and Transformation Plan. The multi-billion dollar mega dams, farms and sugar enterprises are out-of-date, they are carbon/capital/resource intensive and subject to huge hidden costs with built-in diminishing returns. Can Ethiopia have a 21st century Renaissance using so much 20th century technology and thinking? The new government could reassure everyone by creating an open forum where these ultra-high-risk investments are given a serious “rethink”. In the meantime, thanks to the positive aspects of Mr Meles’s legacy, Ethiopia is well-positioned and well-qualified to launch a series of integrated, “mega-green” projects to balance the disintegrating “mega-brown”.

Second, Ethiopia’s allies and partners – governments, donars, investors and NGOs – can play a huge role in assisting and encouraging the new leadership to consider the risks involved in some of the strategies of the GTP. It is in no one’s interest (except the arms industry) if the enemies of Ethiopia’s religion are joined by enemies of development strategies. Millions of people in and around Ethiopia who are already living on a knife-edge due to climate change could soon be permanently tipped over. The security costs of such a disruption can hardly be imagined. The outcome of Rio+20, though disappointing on some levels, holds many opportunities for Ethiopia and Africa to put forward green investment plans that could generate huge demand for green technologies, goods and services; create millions of green jobs, and deliver a invaluable peace dividend. The international community knows enough about this final frontier to help build and expand Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy.

Third, Item 24 of Africa’s Consensus Statement to Rio+20, calls on the international community “to put an international investment strategy into place to facilitate the transition towards a green economy.” This represents an opportunity for Africa and the new leaders of Ethiopia. Instead of waiting for the international community, preoccupied as it is with multiple crises, to deliver a meaningful green investment strategy on time Africa, led by Ethiopia, is in a strong position to propose a strategy of its own. Ethiopia’s current challenge is an historic opportunity to put forward green investment strategies that would appeal to other’s enlightened self-interest. Enough work has been done on Integrated River Basin Management and Biosphere Reserves (the best tools for the job) in Ethiopia for proposals to begin immediately. The tools, technologies, knowledge and skills are there. Investors are looking for stability with growth. Ethiopia can be a great re-balancer. Mr Meles once said that Africa “was a green field for investment because it is the least developed region on earth.” Ethiopia is one of Africa’s greenest fields. The challenge is to invest and keep the field green.

The Chinese government has recently seen the urgent need to build a “harmonious civilisation”. Ethiopia, the Cradle of Mankind where man’s genius for civilisation evolved, is the natural place for this to begin and succeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment