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Report lists green recovery plan for West Africa countries

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Okereke

A fresh report on COVID-19 recovery plans has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to champion a push for ‘win-win recovery’ that are underpinned by green economic thinking and efforts to address climate change.

The report developed by the Society for Planet and Prosperity (SPP) implored the regional body to promote options that seek to address risks associated with the pandemic while building climate-resilient economies through investment in green innovation, renewable energy, transformative adaptation and biodiversity preservation as central parts of recovery plans by the members’ states.

The group made the recommendations in a policy paper on Africa’s Post COVID-19 Green Recovery – Towards a Green and resilient recovery in West Africa: Nigeria and Ghana, which is being presented to help West African countries integrate climate change action as a central objective in the planning and implementation of their respective economic recovery plans to build back a safer, green and resilient economy towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Agenda 2030, and African Union agenda 2063.

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The report is an output from a project commissioned by the European Climate Foundation under the directorship of Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke. The document was authored by Prof. Okereke, Ogheneruona Diemuodeke, Ernest Acheampong, Henry Otchwemah, Kennedy Ahanotu, Gboyega Olorunfemi, Wole Adegbule and Ethelbert Anieze.

The report launched last week, reinforced the fact that recovery plans must spell out rigorous actions, which drive climate change and sustainable development priorities as key measures to tackle economic and social challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, the paper noted some novel initiatives by the Federal Government to reduce the country’s carbon footprint but said such plans should include accelerating the deployment of low-carbon energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and tidal energy.

“It will also be necessary to: improve the weak electricity grid; ramp up clean transport to include electric vehicles and high-speed rail; improve the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances; create a conducive investment environment that will mobilise strong investment from the private sector (while at the same time ensuring that investments align with a green recovery path); and aggressively support fast-track development of a digital economy. A strong political will – rather than the business-as-usual approach – will be vital to executing the government’s ambitious economic recovery plans.”

It emphasised that the recovery plans must also capture commitments to the conservation of biodiversity and effective management of illegal wildlife trafficking, especially in the face of the zoonotic linkages to the origins of COVID-19.

Prof. Okereke, who doubles as President, Society for Planet and Prosperity, Nigeria, said: “It’s true that COVID-19 could result in lower carbon emissions due to the reduced intensity of economic activities. However, he said it is also the case that such reduction of economic activities could lead to the reversal of efforts to achieve SDGs in West Africa and the deepening of poverty and insecurity in the sub-continent.

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“The current economic challenge could lead to slow progress in the development of the technologies and innovation needed to make long-term sustainable progress in tackling climate change and moving the economies along the green development paths. Some projections indicate up to 30 million jobs could be lost and about 28 to 49 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.”

He stated that the situation presents opportunities for governments and other stakeholders to use the COVID-19 recovery efforts to shift their economies from a brown and unequal trajectory to a much greener and equitable path.

According to him, tackling climate change is not a needless inconvenience that should be set aside in the pursuit of the recovery of economic growth; but rather a necessity that needs to be tackled alongside, and indeed as part of the economic recovery plan.

Prof. Okereke revealed that the report contributes to advancing understanding of the policies that can help advance green recovery and combine efforts to tackle climate change and COVID-19 in a synergistic manner to enhance efficiency and sustainability through massive investment in renewable energy, green transportation, climate-smart agriculture, circular economy and energy efficiency among many others.

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