17 August 2017

Ethiopia: On the Road to Become Front-Runner in Green Economy

'Unlike what the developed nations did, Ethiopia's development should come about without having significant impact on the environment and the planets natural resources' is the whole concept of the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE).

Efforts have been underway to make sure the booming industrialization would not damage the environment and lately many are convinced that this strategy is not only taking roots in Ethiopia but is also inspiring other countries.

Green economy is believed to help nation utilize its natural resources wisely on top of cutting carbon emissions. These days, the country is being internationally acknowledged as a green economy front-runner, with a portion of the international community continues to urge other developing countries to follow same path.

Tsegaye Mamo, Communications Vice President at Meles Academy tells The Ethiopian Herald that, initially the concept of green economy is a core element enshrined in Ethiopia's rural development strategy.

"As Ethiopia's development strategy from the beginning has focused on the development of farmers, it was directed to free the nation's farmers from dependency on rainfall. In order to realize this ambition, the government has planned to build irrigation dams" says Tsegaye. On top of that, due to the economy's high dependency on agriculture amid the underdeveloped industry, there is a strong need to develop the country's natural resources for effective farming and efficient production of crops and livestock.

Boosting agricultural products requires creating linkage between agricultural practice and environmental conservation and that was why Ethiopia's rural development strategy has initially given emphasis to the idea of green development, according to Tsegaye.

Then, explains Tsegaye, "as Ethiopia's effort alone in green economy cannot free us from the problem and as most of the world is still polluting the environment, it was important to come up with new Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy to set model for others to follow. The green economy plan, masterminded by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi went into effect as part of the Growth and Transformation Plan.

The late prime minister strongly believed that the issue needs to be taken to the global stage. Africa is suffering from the environmental impacts of large scale industrialization elsewhere which it has not significantly contributed for.

According to Tsegaye, the late prime minster has been advocating that those who actually affected the integrity of the environment should make compensation for the damage their actions posed on Africa. The prime minister, using a number of global forums in which he represented Africa amplified the concept to the world. Thus, the premier was the main player in devising the strategy which was fully endorsed by the international community and helped to luring funds for its implementation.

"The forest coverage was declining at a devastating pace and reached three percent some 25 years back. Now with the proper implementation of policies and strategies, the forest has been rehabilitated to reach up to 15 percent coverage" says Tsegaye reiterating the successes gained so far in this regard. This strategy not only helps to rehabilitate the forest but also bring about fundamental changes in the mindset of the people in relation to natural resources conservation.

Regarding this, recently Professor Thomas Sterner of University of Gothenburg speaking in Addis Ababa says, the rapid economic growth in Ethiopia along its relentless efforts in renewable energy development has created an enabling situation to implement the climate resilient and green development strategy, signaling at its capacity to be model to other developing nations to imitate the strategy.

Approached by The Ethiopian Herald Dr. Teshome Tamirat, Forest Development Director at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change says, the forest sector is targeted to contribute up to 10 percent to the GDP as nation bids to build climate resilient economy. The Ethiopian Ministry of Forest, Climate Change and Environment seeks to increase nation's forest coverage with a percent every year through the concerted efforts of its Directorates established to focus on the sector.

Forest products, he adds, besides substantially contributing to reducing carbon emissions, would generate income through national consumption and export. "Thus, we encourage smallholder farmers to cultivate half hectares of land with forest productions. For this project, half a million farmers are recruited to cultivate forest on available plots of land throughout the country" says Dr. Teshome.

Besides, the ministry supports investors to participate in value addition to boost the revenue that can be earned from forest productions. The ministry also has a directorate that undertakes inventory activities of the forest resources to mark follow up how many seeds are planted and how much of it is conserved, according to Dr. Teshome.

"Moreover, we work to make sure the natural forest which accounts for about three percent would be properly conserved and protected, says Dr. Teshome adding that the climate resilient green economy strategy is a multipurpose plan of action in protecting natural resources that suit the nation's agriculture, cutting carbon emission and significantly contributing to the national GDP.

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