Friday, July 11, 2014

East Africa Hosts First international Green Economy conference.
algeria-solar.jpgPeter Labeja, PAMMAC Uganda Coordinator
The East African country of Tanzania will this week hosts the first ever international conference on Green Economy in the South - South conference. 

The three days meeting (July 08 – 10th) will take place at University of Dodoma, Tanzania, hosted by the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. The summit has been organized to critically examine different tools and approaches that inform Africa’s green economy strategies.

Professor Idriss Kikula, the Vice Chancellor of University of Dodoma is expected to open the summit with a keynote address on Green Economy in Africa. Kenya is the only East African country that has switched on a giant solar farm, considered a green economic development, to supplement power supply in the country in December 2013. The plant, Kenya’s largest commercial solar power farm has been switched on in Timau, Nanyuki, 230 kilometres north of Nairobi, paving the way for more commercial solar power farms in the country.

According to Ivan Freeman, owner of Uhuru Flowers, the 72 Megawatt farm will provide his company with electricity, which will reduce power costs by 80 per cent.

A press statement from the University of Dodoma reads in part “The momentum gathering behind the idea and practice of the Green Economy is coinciding with financial instability and continued economic woe in the North, but generally happier economic circumstances in the South.”

It added that “Africa’s economies are growing and ‘green economic initiatives’ are part of these changes.” 

The three-day international conference will bring together researchers and activists mainly from the South to debate and learn different phenomena of green economic initiatives, including carbon payments, ecotourism, community-based wildlife management. 

The others are Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and offsets by mining companies exploiting new resources which are all a part of a landscape offering new commodities, opportunities for commercialization and integration into wealth-generating markets. 

The organizers have warned that there are also growing incidents of land (and water) grabbing, displacement and alienation of resources required for wealthy tourists in the South, coupled with bitter local conflicts over the locally-defined rules of access to carbon (e.g. firewood) purchased by wealthy northerners.

Equally demands for alternatives to market-driven environmental degradation, and for market-dominated solutions are also gaining strength and coherence. One of the aims of the event is therefore to bring together field-based research with theoretical ideas about framing and context of Green Economy issues.

“We are convening it in Tanzania because we want the focus of this conference to be about the growth of Africa’s green economy initiatives. Africa’s expanding economy calls for initiatives that pave way for a better, more sustainable development,” says Thabit Jacob of University of Dodoma. 

In addition to the conference itself, participants will also make optional field trips to sites where interventions of the green economy are unfolding – in carbon forestry, wildlife management and eco-tourism.

This conference builds on a series of sister conferences held in Europe and North America. It is sponsored by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the UK Department for International Development (UKAID) and co-hosted by the Institute for Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) among others.

The conference will include papers, films, website launches and panels on all topics associated with, but not limited to:
-       Carbon forestry
-       New forms of wildlife management
-       Neoliberal environmental governance
-       Eco-tourism
-       Green offsets
-       Bio-fuels and Agriculture
-       Green agricultural growth
-       Transgenic crops (GMOs) and patent rights
-       Challenges to neoliberal hegemony
-       Post-democracy and environmental social movements
-       Poverty Reduction and Green Economic Initiatives
-       Green CSR in Developing Economy Contexts
-       Mining and the environment
-       And theoretical initiatives pertaining to all of the above and more
For more information on Green Economy in the Global South, follow the link below:-

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