UN Environment Assembly: Circular economy gains traction as Morocco plans to join regional Alliance
NNN: The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) joined public and private sector actors in Nairobi this week to discuss the implementation of circular economy policies and action plans in Africa. Highlights of the side event included news that Morocco plans to join the African Circular Economy Alliance.
The side event on accelerating a just transition to a circular economy in Africa took place on 28 February during the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) and was co-organized by the African Bank of Development and the United Nations Environment Program.
The event was in line with the central theme of the assembly: “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. It helped member states better understand the importance of the transition to the circular economy and the opportunity to build back better and greener in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Officer in Charge of Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, gave a presentation on the Bank’s support to incorporate the circular economy as a development strategy for Africa. “As a development finance institution, our goal is to enable proof of concept of the circular economy as a bankable business model,” he said. The Bank recently launched its new climate change and green growth strategic framework (2021-2030), which features the circular economy as one of its flagship initiatives.
The experts from the diverse panel agreed on the importance of the private sector. Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister for the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, stated: “We are concerned about plastic waste and its impact on the environment and ultimately our oceans. We understood that if we want to implement the circular economy effectively, we must do it in partnership with the private sector.”
Speakers also recognized the benefits of scaling circular practices to African countries, especially in addressing the triple crisis of pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change. They emphasized the need to regulate informal activities, where the majority of waste management activities are currently located, and the importance of implementing enabling regulatory environments and supporting increased access to finance to de-risk investments.
European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, highlighted the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA), whose secretariat is hosted by the Bank, as a leading platform to promote business cooperation, knowledge sharing and transfer of technology. This sentiment was shared by Dr. Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco. “Our national strategy has already identified the circular economy as a strategic asset for intervention. We look forward to formally joining ACEA as a new member country.”
While circular principles have been applied for many generations in African customs, there are now greater opportunities to harness the circular economy as a development strategy to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty. The implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions, under the Paris climate agreement, presents a $3 trillion market opportunity between now and 2030.
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