UN Global Compact Highlights South-South Cooperation on Sustainable Development
Representatives from business, Government, the UN, academia and civil society came together in Nairobi to discuss private sector collaboration in Africa and one of its biggest trading partners, China, to promote green growth and sustainable development.
The Clean and Green Africa-China Private Sector Forum on Collective Action for Sustainable Development focused on issues including sustainable energy access, infrastructure development, technology and knowledge transfer among developing countries. Business and UN representatives discussed green growth opportunities in both Africa and China and how the private sector can capitalize on the rapidly growing trade relationship to meet mutual sustainable development goals.
Organized by the UN Global Compact, the meeting took place at the 2013 Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo. The Expo was organized by the UN Office of South-South Cooperation and hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with the theme, Building Inclusive Green Economies: South-South Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. More than 600 participants convened to share best practices on meeting challenges to achieve sustainable development goals.
With trade between Africa and China doubling over the past five years from USD 100 billion in 2008 to USD 200 billion in 2012, Dr. Jian Liu, Director of UNEP’s International Ecosystem Management Partnership and the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, argued that the Chinese private sector has the potential to lead green investment in Africa. Dr. Liu stated the need for South-South cooperation to leverage the deficit in finance and technology left by a long history of North-South cooperation, including promoting green economy development.
Other Forum panelists discussed topics ranging from energy and transportation to education and technology:
Deo Onyango, Director of Regional Commercial Growth in East Africa for GE Africa, addressed infrastructure gaps in Africa, specifically in the energy sector. He stated that shifts towards long-term planning by Governments and increased demands for suitable, cheaper forms of energy by the African people have increased the need for the private and public sector to help meet Africa’s growing energy demands. He proposed adopting more collaborative, shared systems of energy distribution, using China as an example.
Bert Fabian, Programme Officer from the Asia Transport Unit, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE), UNEP, made similar comparisons for the future of sustainable transport in China and Africa. He welcomed the rapid increase of South-South cooperation and development, saying that African countries can learn from China’s recent moves towards sustainable public transportation.
Annette Mutuku, Corporate Communications Manager for Eastern and Southern Africa at Chinese ICT giant, Huawei, provided insights into the challenges of transnational corporations integrating regionally. She also highlighted the need for private sector investment in education to ensure stable growth of talented personnel and strong consumer markets.
- Panel moderator Dr. Ben Muok from the African Centre for Technology Studies discussed the issue of technology and knowledge transfer. Guangxi Penshibao Co. Ltd. CEO Wang Jidong offered agricultural technology and productivity solutions from the Chinese experience – such as improved seed and fertilizer technologies – as lessons for Kenya and other African countries facing food security issues.
Founded, in 1974, the United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) offers a broad framework for collaboration among developing countries to share knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to meet their development goals through concerted efforts. This year’s event marks the first time the Expo is taking place in the global South.
For more information about the work of the UN Global Compact in Africa and China, please visit http://www.unglobalcompact.org/NetworksAroundTheWorld/index.html.
Source: UN Global Compact website