Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a temporary reduction of human impact on the environment. It is expected, however, that a return to normalcy or the adoption of the new normal will result to the intensification of environmental burdens exceeding the levels recorded before the pandemic.
To address the above concerns, a new strategy for action has been identified, the so-called Green Growth Strategy. According to OECD green growth means adopting measures conducive to economic development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services which contribute to the country’s prosperity. Green growth focuses on accelerating investments and innovations that will underpin sustainable development and provide new economic opportunities.
This strategy will provide a cost-effective way of reducing pressure on the environment thus allowing for transition to new models of development. This will in turn will avoid crossing critical local, regional and global environmental thresholds. Green growth strategies developed at the national level should encourage environmentally friendly behaviour of businesses and consumers, improve the optimal reallocation of labour, capital and technology towards greener operations, and provide motivation for the development of eco-innovations.
Green growth presents the private sector with risks and opportunities which big or small companies need to be aware of if they are to succeed in their objectives. Customers, governments and NGOs are pushing companies towards green growth to ensure they have better environmental management.
Companies must articulate as well as show by actions what they are doing to make the world a better place in terms of reduction of the environmental footprint. Kenyan consumers are becoming more aware of the effect of climate change and this will lead to companies facing more pressure to be transparent both about the risks they face from tightening carbon regulation and about the contribution they themselves are making to the goal of keeping the global temperature below 2°C limit.
On the other hand, there will be opportunities for business especially in relation to availability of more incentives to develop and use low-carbon products and services such as renewable energy, carbon capture-and-storage, battery technology and low-carbon transport. A point in case is Kenyan Government tax incentive for importation of solar equipment.
Governments will need to remain at the forefront of enforcing regulations that support green growth including the development and use of renewable energy sources. One of the recent trajectories that Sub-saharan Africa countries should consider is the concept of circular economy. Circular economy is about designing out waste and pollution in our lives at homes as well as at workplaces and keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.
Circular economy emphasizes the need for reusing, recycling, repairing and sharing of materials and hence creating a way to achieve economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable.
Green economy will also be achieved through very bold moves such as energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy electrification strategies, ban on the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2030, levies on plastics and other unsustainable materials and sensitization for sustainable consumption and production.
The commitments to green economy will not only provide future generations with better livelihoods but also put that Sub-saharan Africa countries on the fore front of sustainable development and fight against climate change. This coming October and November, the UK government will be hosting COP 26 and Africa countries will need to take a significant role on shaping the future on how to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit CO2 emissions.
The private sector needs to take sustainability and reduction of CO2 emission as a priority and an important part of their business models. This will result to greening their value chains as well as the production systems which leads to better revenues and reduced costs not to mention risk management. This will be achieved through efficient use of materials; Use of renewable sources of energy, implementation of energy efficiency mechanisms, waste management and replacement of production materials with more sustainable alternatives.
It is very clear that growth must be done in a green manner and these two important concepts must go hand-in-hand if we are to safeguard the existence of the future generation. Innovation and new technologies will also provide a pathway to the transition especially when it comes to agriculture, waste and water management, use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The private sector must be on the front seat when it comes to developing new ways of doing business that will be sensitive to the climate change risk. For governments, it will be critical to provide an enabling environment in form of incentives as well as regulations that will help in greening Africa economies.