The virtual event was part of the 2020 World Circular Economy Forum Online, an annual conference hosted by the Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA, which attracted more than 5,000 business leaders, policymakers and experts to present the world’s best circular economy solutions.
The Bank is a strategic partner of the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA), a country-led coalition of African nations and global partners committed to advancing the transition to a circular economy on the continent.
Dr. Joy Kategekwa, Strategic Adviser to the Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for UNDP Africa, and Wanjira Mathai, Vice President and Regional Director for World Resources Institute Africa opened the webinar with compelling storytelling.
Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Chair of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and current Co-chair of the African Circular Economy Alliance, shared an official statement highlighting “the need to upscale the ACEA’s work at the national, regional and continental levels to improve the way in which we produce and consume goods and services, reduce waste, create jobs, empower women for gender mainstreaming, mobilise the youth and contribute to sustainable development”.
The circular economy concept– gaining prominence as a result of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change and the African Union’s Agenda 2063– is a model for sustainable production and consumption, in which the productive use of natural resources and materials is optimized to minimize waste and environmental pollution. As part of the continent’s COVID-19 Response Plan, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) is developing the Africa Green Stimulus Programme, which identifies the improvement of chemicals, waste management and the circular economy as one of 12 priority areas.
The panelists discussed promising circular initiatives on the continent, such as the EU-funded SWITCH Africa Green Programme led by Dr. Patrick Mwesigye, Regional Coordinator of Resource Efficiency for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). SWITCH supports new circular businesses in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda.
Similarly, the African Development Bank provides innovative finance to bridge the gap faced by women and youth-led green businesses through the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) and the Youth Entrepreneurship & Innovation (YEI) Trust Fund.
Commenting on Bank’s initiatives, Dr. Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth, noted that inclusive finance must go hand-in-hand with policy reforms to catalyze the creation of enabling environments that support Africans, and in particular vulnerable groups that have been sidelined from economic growth.
“Centralized platforms like the African Circular Economy Alliance will build the momentum for circular economy engagement and foster continental and regional partnerships,” Nyong said. The Bank is currently establishing an African Circular Economy Facility in partnership with the government of Finland, SITRA and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF).