Within the last few weeks ahead of the Rio + 20 Conference (and given the focus of the World Environment Day 2012 on green economy), discussions on one of the themes: A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, has received more attention than has been in the last one year.
At a recent consultative meeting for civil society organizations in Uganda on the Rio + 20 agenda held May 15, 2012 in Kampala, my observation was that there were discussions that raised more questions that answers. For example: how do we manage the environment to promote a green economy? What will be the indicators to measure progress? How far is a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication in the interest of the global south? How can this concept avoid the potential pitfalls of being top-down that could further alienate the poor people’s concerns?
But one interesting thing that caught my attention in this meeting was a documentary shown, that was prepared by the French Embassy in Uganda and civil society partners. This documentary titled: ‘Green dreams’, highlights a number of important sectors including energy provision for the urban poor, water purification, waste management in underserved poor settlements, community mobilization and citizen participation, and technology transfer.
The important idea from this documentary is the importance of contextualizing the concept of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication rather than it being in form of a one-size-fits-all.
Another notable idea that was put forward by Dr Tom Okurut from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), is the need to have a post- Rio +20 mechanism / strategy to secure implementation of the outcome that should among others be owned and driven by all key actors; resources should be mobilized to implement the Rio + 20 outcome in Uganda, while a structural coordination system should inevitably be put in place.
Despite these ideas, the traditional (professional) ‘biases’ could still be felt from the panelists that gave views on this concept afterwards. Mr. Joseph Enyimu from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development cautioned on the feasibility of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication – noting that this requires a reform of the statistical system to bring other aspects of the economy (human, technology etc) into the picture and securing clear links amongst them. On the other hand some environmental activists and development agencies seem to be anxious to move faster with the concept despite its limitations
I therefore foresee a ‘clash of minds’ at the implementation level (policy related), as long as the concept remains unclear with no coherent plan to enable the different actors and existing processes to appreciate and buy into this concept