The International Training Centre of the ILO and the ILO's Green Jobs Programme, in collaboration with the United Nations University - Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), organized a week-long bilingual (English and French) Regional Forum entitled: "Greening industries and green entrepreneurship promotion as a driver of sustainable growth in rural Africa".
The Forum brought together in a common platform leading research institutions across Africa; government ministries of environment, labor, commerce, planning and industry, along with private sector organizations, trade unions and NGOs.
In the opening ceremony, Mr. Elias Ayuk, Director of UNU-INRA, emphasized that enhancing resource productivity by promoting green industrial development is essential in the efforts of African countries to move towards greener economies and sustainable societies.
Mrs. Christine Evans-Klock, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, highlighted the current national energy supply shortages, illustrative of the developmental challenges many African countries face and for which the greening of the economy offers solutions. She noted that Ghana recently adopted a National Employment Policy, which recognizes opportunities of a green economy and green jobs.
Mr. Papa Bartels, Director of Logistics and Value, Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ghana, added that Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda for 2014-2017 (GSGDA II) aims to accelerate the socio-economic transformation of the country by promoting the adoption of the principles of green economy in national development planning. Mrs Alice Attipoe, Director of Human Resource, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations of Ghana reminded the importance of skills development to enable such a shift in paradigm and transition to a green economy.
Mr. Moustapha Kamal Gueye, from the ILO, noted that the Forum came at a timely moment as the ILO Governing Body adopted on the 4th of November Guidelines for a just transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, as a practical tool for ILO constituents covering nine policy areas including the greening of enterprises and industries, skills development and employment policies.
The event offered participants two parallel learning tracks to customize their learning experience according to their individual interests:
i) greening industries and enterprises, which addressed resource input optimization and minimization of environmental risk and pollution in the production process and supply chain through the review of well-established approaches and workplace practices and;
ii) green entrepreneurship and eco-innovation, which addressed how to unleash the potential of new business opportunities in environmental goods and services in rural Africa.
The Forum encouraged a participatory learning approach notably through a knowledge fair that gave the opportunity for extensive experience exchange.
The event concluded with a forward-thinking discussion on how to create an enabling environment for green enterprise and green industry development, for instance, through effective policy frameworks and research-based advocacy, revisiting traditional African practices and taking into account gender dimensions in rural Africa.
The main objective of this Regional Forum was to enhance the capacity of policy makers, researchers, stakeholders from civil society organizations, trade unions, employers’ organizations from Anglophone and Francophone African countries to explore key opportunities for efficient use of resources and green entrepreneurship specifically in the green economy in rural Africa.
It was organized in the framework of the UNU-INRA green economy project “Unleashing the potential of African Rural Economies through Green Growth”, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).