Webinar on green growth and development in Africa

Minister Barbara Creecy
Prof Tshilidzi Marwala
Mr Ji Zhihong

On Thursday 22 July, the UJ Centre for Africa-China Studies, in partnership with the China Construction Bank, hosted a zoom webinar on ‘Green Growth and Development in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities’.

The keynote speakers were the Hon. Ms Barbara Creecy, South African Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries;Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of Johannesburg; and Mr Ji Zhihong, Executive Vice President of the China Construction Bank.The Moderator was Ms Mmabatho Mongae, a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Background

In the latter part of the 21st century, terms such as green growth, green development, green technologies, and green (energy) transition have become buzzwords in Africa’s development discourse. While these terms capture the inadequacies of traditional modes of wealth accumulation and development strategies, the concept is largely perceived as foreign to the realities of most parts of the developing world. Although Africa has contributed the least to human-induced climate change, there are predictions that the continent will be the worst hit.

As most parts of the region depend on the environment for survival – rain-fed agriculture, firewood for cooking and heating (energy), and water sources – there is need to prioritise a green pathway to development.

For Africa, the challenges of green growth and development centres around ‘how to’ successfully transition while addressing pressing human development issues including poverty, hunger, famine, inequality, war and terrorism. While efforts such as the African Union’s Great Green Wall launched in 2007 to combat desertification is a reflection of the willingness to adopt development strategies that are ecologically and environmentally sensitive, the pace at which such projects are implemented are lethargic. More so, the effect of the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic on most African societies further annotates the need to identify innovative approaches and opportunities to mobilise private and public capital towards green transition in Africa.

This webinar is dedicated to assessing the challenges and opportunities for green growth (and development) in Africa across five key thematic areas: governance and strategic partnerships; green finance and investments; research and development; industry; and the peoples’ perspective. In each of these themes, the speakers will debunk the concept of ‘green growth’ and its implications while examining its challenges and opportunities.

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