“We have a clear indication that ambitious action for the environment is not going to be a job killer. It’s the opposite. And actually taking action for sustainability can deliver more and better jobs.”
In Episode 3, we speak to Moustapha Kamal Gueye (International Labour Organization), Khoudia Kane Lo (Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Senegal), and Gountiéni Damien Lankoandé (GRAAD Burkina) to answer these and other key questions as we explore the role of green jobs in advancing a green recovery.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye 1:51
Khoudia Kane 16:45
Damien Lankoandé 30:07
Colm Hastings: COVID-19 has caused a seismic and possibly permanent shift in the world of work. It is estimated that up to 500 million jobs may be lost by the time the pandemic is over. 270 million workers are now living in extreme poverty, and even in many developed countries food insecurity is rising. Meanwhile, these impacts are magnified for women and youth groups. But this in itself is nothing new, and in many ways these current trends reflect a crisis within a crisis. Even before COVID-19 a huge social deficit existed. Youth unemployment was increasing, and climate change – the elephant in the room – continues to threaten 1.2 billion jobs globally, almost 40 percent of the total workforce. The pandemic has therefore shone a lens on a problem that has long been bubbling away beneath the surface. It is this that has led the United Nations Secretary-General – Antonio Guterres – to call on governments to prioritize investments in green jobs as part of a green recovery.
Colm Hastings: My name is Colm Hastings from the Partnership for Action on Green Economy, and this is The Green Renaissance – a monthly podcast series designed to answer the key policy questions at the heart of the green recovery debate. The stakes have never been higher, so join us once a month as we unpack the complex policy issues that will determine the fate of our economies, our societies, and our planet, for decades to come. Subscribe on SoundCloud, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts, and please give us a rating if you enjoy the series. In this episode we speak to Moustapha Kamal Gueye of the International Labour Organization, Khoudia Kane of the Ministry of Environment of Senegal, and Damien Lankoandé, of GRAAD Burkina, to discuss how a green recovery can address the global unemployment crisis. We asked them how governments can support green jobs development, why a green recovery must also be just and inclusive, and how targeted policies can promote new job opportunities for women and youth.
Colm Hastings: So to begin with we speak to Moustapha Kamal Gueye, who is the Coordinator of the Green Jobs Programme at the International Labour Organization. Kamal leads the organization’s work to create more and better green jobs opportunities, and here he talks about how a green recovery can further advance this process.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Well first of all, I think one important learning from the COVID-19 crisis is the interface between agendas of sustainable development in the sense of environmental sustainability, human health, decent work and our economic systems. And, the way we have to respond to the crisis, and that is the message we’re seeing from countries around the world, is to connect these agendas. That the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis should not just be a return to business as usual. It must be a return to what, in the words of the ILO Director-General, should be a better normal. So that we address some of the fundamental weaknesses in current economic and social systems, and how they impact on the environmental sustainability agenda. So in that sense a green recovery is in order, and because this is a job crisis, in recovering, in the world of work there are opportunities to create more and better jobs through environment-related actions.
Colm Hastings: So as we return in your words to a better normal, one important aspect will be ensuring that we protect those who stand to lose out under a green recovery – those whose jobs and livelihoods may be lost. This touches onto the need for a just transition. But how do we make this happen in practice, and avoid this becoming just another slogan?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: I believe that the response to the COVID-19, in the sense of a green recovery, must also address issues of social justice. We see a number of countries trying to move into the energy transition. Gradually going out of the fossil fuel-based economic and energy systems, to an energy system which relies more on clean energy, for example. So this means phasing out from coal, and policies in that direction. Now obviously in doing that, it is important to make sure that the opportunities for job creation are maximized, but at the same time the risks of social disruption, and loss of employment, in existing economic sectors are minimized and mitigated. So that at the end of the day, we remain within the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, which is to leave no one behind.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Now that notion of just transition is critical, because if we’re not able to have a strong social consensus in the ecological transition, it is likely that forces of resistance – which might be powerful forces – may emerge, and this is not going to be optimal for the social and economic transformations that countries are seeking. So therefore as we countries embark on the green recovery, it would be important to keep in mind notions of social justice, and just transition is simply reflecting that effort to make sure that we maximize opportunities, minimize risks, and ensure that everybody is well-off in this process of green recovery.
Colm Hastings: It’s interesting that you just referred to forces of opposition that may eventually oppose green initiatives. I think one of those that certainly interests me, and have a lot of power in this space, is the trade unions. For example in the United States, environmental protection and union jobs have been called a fault line. The Green New Deal is facing opposition in some quarters from those that are still pushing a jobs versus the environment narrative. So what role do you see for trade unions in advancing a green recovery, and how do we ensure that we have their support?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Well a very good news is that at least in the context of the International Labour Organization, the trade unions – the workers organizations – they have been at the forefront of the sustainability agenda. I think workers organizations have understood perhaps more than others, and before others, that there will be no jobs on a dead planet. We need to ensure that we keep the natural capital assets of our economic systems, which enable economic activity and employment creation. And so therefore workers organizations are not against an environmental sustainability agenda – they are for it.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: However, they want to see a comprehensive policy framework, and that is why in the ILO, in 2015 our tripartite constituents with governments, workers, and employees representatives, adopted what we call the Guidelines for a Just Transition Towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All. So those Guidelines, they offer a comprehensive framework in looking at macroeconomic policies, sectoral policies, the role of social dialogue in this process of transition, labour market policies, and all that is needed to go together in a coordinated and coherent manner so that we mobilize all forces within society, governments and social partners together, to achieve this ecological transition.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: We have a clear indication that ambitious action for the environment is not going to be a job killer, it’s the opposite. And actually taking action for sustainability can deliver more and better jobs. So, the ILO’s own assessment of implementing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, you know even focusing only on the energy sector, found that it’s possible to generate an additional 18 million net job gains by 2030. So therefore we’re on a positive narrative. What matters is the process that will take us through that narrative. And I think that’s what workers, as well as employees organizations want to see.
Colm Hastings: Would you also extend this to youth groups? One of the key themes that is emerging from these podcasts is the central role that youth must play in advancing a green recovery. Does this also apply to green jobs?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Absolutely. I think it’s very clear that the sustainable development agenda has at its core this notion of intergenerational equity. And I think we live today in a world where young people are the largest number of people on this planet. So it’s just natural that they step-up in securing not only their present, but their future. And we see that youth groups, in various forms, are very supportive of this notion of green jobs. Which is just finding a way of securing a livelihood, decent work – but which also matches their personal aspirations, which is to live in a planet which is safe, breathe clean air, have clean water. So all these ecosystem functions that we take for granted, I think young people have got to the realization that they are fundamental to sustain the present and future of people on this planet. And I think that’s why we’re seeing this massive engagement of youth groups very much pushing and driving the agenda for green jobs.
Colm Hastings: To what extent is the development of green jobs opportunities a balance, between the role of governments in creating the right policies and enabling environments, and the role of the private sector in driving innovation and enterprise? Who should really be taking the lead here?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Well I think that it’s a natural role for governments to put in place the policy frameworks and the enabling conditions for all actors in society to play their role. So therefore the sense of direction is in the hands of governments. But those who are going to be transforming our economic systems and societies – they are actors in the real economy. These are employers, workers, people, and young people because they are again the majority of people around this world. So, I think it’s very clear, it’s important to get this differentiation of roles very clear.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Governments must put in place policies, frameworks and conditions that would make it possible for every other actor in society to play their part. And I think a lot of what we need in the ecological transition, including in the green recovery from COVID-19, will be about innovation. It will be about enterprise development, entrepreneurship. And these are areas where we see a lot of action by young people, using information communication technologies to deal with environmental issues in very innovative ways, that also create decent work and green jobs, and a lot of engagement of the private sector enterprises in that area of innovation as well. I think there is a fantastic opportunity, and it’s just important for government to unleash these possibilities, for other actors in society to fully play their part.
Colm Hastings: Speaking of different roles for different stakeholder groups, perhaps here we can talk about the role of women. Obviously from a gender perspective, women workers have been hit particularly hard by the impacts of COVID-19, which has exacerbated already quite a large social deficit. How can we address this deficit through the promotion of green jobs?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Well obviously we have seen, even from ILO data, that women work in most of the sectors that have been hit hard by this crisis, in the service industry. And it’s important that gender dimensions be kept in mind in the process of recovery. Now when we look at gender in the opportunity side of the recovery, in terms of where do we see jobs coming up – new occupations in the green sectors, in the energy sector, in the circular economy – we started with the assumption that many of these new economic sectors that are growing fast, where new occupations are coming, would possibly breach the gender divide. So that we would just see equal participation of male and female workers in those economic sectors. However, the trends we see from our analysis is indicating that it’s not necessarily and not automatically the case. We see that some of the occupations that are emerging both in the energy transition, and in the circular economy, tend to be in economic sectors and occupations that are currently predominantly engaging male workers.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: So which means that there still would be need for dedicated policies to ensure that we have a gender balance in the jobs of the green economy. And that it would not happen by default, but by design. There would be need for specific policies to encourage and support female participation in those economic sectors, and so that’s a critical dimension. Now there’s a good news that if you look at the jobs in the renewable energy sector, the data from the International Renewable Energy Agency is telling us that we have a higher level of female participation in jobs in the renewable energy sector compared to female participation in the fossil fuel industry. So it’s a good news, but this trend needs to be reinforced so that we really achieve a gender balance in the jobs of the green economy.
Colm Hastings: We’ve obviously seen the world of work change quite dramatically over the past 12 months, and a green recovery is likely to have further disruptive impacts. One that is perhaps flying under the radar at the moment, but which I think is likely to develop as the world steps up its climate action, is the notion of a green gig economy – for instance for those working in ecosystem restoration. How do we manage the potentially negative impacts of this type of work in the future?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Well I think the new ways of working, through the gig economy for example, bring a positive side. Which is that it enables workers who would normally be excluded from the labour market – on accounts of disability, or care responsibility, illness etc. – to be able to participate in the labour markets. Now, the challenge we face is how do we make sure that this change in the employment relationship is operating in a normative framework. International labour standards have been devised for decades to guide how work is done in a decent way – protecting workers, making conditions fit for enterprises and society as well. Now how do we make sure that this is not fundamentally changed in a negative way through these new forms of work?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: An important slogan in the world of work is this notion that labour is not a commodity. Now in the gig economy it becomes very difficult to find some ways through which you ensure that this is not happening. So therefore, ensuring that working conditions in the gig economy comply with the notions of decent work – that workers have rights at work, they have their right for collective bargaining, and that it’s very clear that we know that we are still in an employment relationship guided by labour standards – that’s the challenge, and I think it’s fundamental to keep that in mind.
Colm Hastings: As a final question, I wanted to ask you about your own personal experiences working with governments over the course of the past 12 months. What lessons have you taken from this, and are there any policy innovations or approaches that we can look to for inspiration?
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: Well the ILO has been working with a framework where we work with our constituents to ensure that in this context, we maintained business continuity, where workers had to still work in a context of the pandemic, that we have safety at work, and reviving the economy. Now where I’ve seen very interesting ideas, because for me one of the lessons of this crisis is that there is need for countries to be more resilient. Economic systems, enterprises to be more resilient, to future shocks. Because this is a health-driven crisis, but it can tell us that the world may face similar crises, possibly related to the environment, to climate change, a possible collapse of the biodiversity and ecosystems, and what to do in response to that.
Moustapha Kamal Gueye: But at the same time, I think it has revealed a fantastic opportunity to innovate and to respond to shocks. We have seen for example across Africa and many other parts of the world, how young people have devised innovative systems for touchless hand washing systems, often using recycled materials. We have seen how with the breakdown in the supply chains for food, many countries and cities have gone on to promote further city-based farming, urban farming, and this has allowed organizations, the social economy to venture in that area. And you take a country like Singapore, they’ve even gone to put specific policy objectives to promote urban farming, so that they can ensure a higher part of their nutritional needs from locally produced food. And I think all these innovations are very positive and encouraging, and I think they offer some of the ways forward in recovering in a green, sustainable and inclusive way, but at the same time pushing the boundary of the green economy beyond this crisis.
Colm Hastings: Next we speak to Khoudia Kane, who is a Project Manager at the Green Finance and Partnerships Department in Senegal’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Khoudia is the focal point for green jobs projects, and here she explains why green jobs have been at the heart of Senegal’s green economy transition.
Khoudia Kane: Here in Senegal, through the authorities and even through the NGOs, we’ve tried to draw a parallel between environmental needs and challenges. So, we thought it was actually much more interesting for the country to get people interested in the environment through the creation of revenues and jobs, since there is a huge problem of unemployment among young people in Senegal.
Khoudia Kane: We piloted the protection of the environment through volunteering, but it didn’t work out so well. We had some results, but not the results we expected. So when there was this shift towards the green economy, it was an opportunity for the country to adapt it to its realities. And what characterizes us here is that we have growing unemployment; there is a shortage of resources that are becoming increasingly scarce, and there is also the problem with importation.
Khoudia Kane: The country consumes a lot of products that come from abroad. So to talk about green jobs we must talk about the sustainability of the local economy; about both the development and protection of natural resources; and about new unsaturated sectors, because many people that have trained at university are having trouble finding work.
Khoudia Kane: It’s not for nothing that the President has set up the Rapid Entrepreneurship Delegation Fund. Because we understood that we would now have to rethink our development path, since the traditional sectors are too saturated to absorb the high numbers of young people, and to give work to other people who are not in the system, or who have left the education system.
Khoudia Kane: As our President of the Republic, Mr. Macky Sall has said, the green economy is really a lever for Senegal to boost its development on a good basis. So, I think green jobs was our added value. It remains an added value because it allows us to address two crucial issues here in Senegal: unemployment and environmental protection. So, if we come up with projects that can protect the environment or develop local resources while creating income and jobs, we’re in!
Colm Hastings: You’ve just referred there to Senegal’s National Strategy for the Promotion of Green Jobs, which has been recognized internationally for the positive social, economic, and environmental results that it’s had. What considerations informed the design and development of this National Strategy? And what balances or trade-offs did it have to make when it was deciding which sectors to prioritize or support?
Khoudia Kane: It’s true that the added value of our National Strategy is that it’s been very participatory in its design, by involving all stakeholders but particularly by taking into account the specificities of the four eco-regions of Senegal. Because in Senegal we have four eco-regions beyond the Dakar region, and as we know each has different geographical and economic contexts, and the availability of natural resources is not the same from one region to another.
Khoudia Kane: So, before developing the strategy, we held workshops where actors from the Department of Green Finance and Partnerships went out into the field to meet grassroots actors for discussions. And that’s where it started, the strategy. So that’s maybe one of its strong points.
Khoudia Kane: Thanks to this, we were able to determine that for green jobs to prosper in Senegal, we should review all legal and regulatory aspects. We should prioritize sectors, as I said earlier, that have potential and that are appropriate for Senegal. And that includes sectors related to forest and aquatic resources, waste recovery, and also renewable energies. Thinking, of course, of alternative modes of energy that consume less wood and coal.
Khoudia Kane: So, in the end, that’s what made it possible to establish this document. The priority sectors were defined in accordance with the environmental challenges to be met. At the end of these meetings, workshops, and discussions around the sectors and value chains to be developed, there was a national workshop to share the final document which has now been validated.
Khoudia Kane: It’s true, making this document did require some compromise, but it wasn’t difficult to find a common ground because even before the document was designed, people had already come up with the ideas and had the discussions that allowed them to agree on what to emphasize as a priority for Senegal.
Colm Hastings: I think another important aspect to the current pandemic is the way that it has impacted different groups of society in different ways. It obviously affects us all, but it does not affect us all equally. So with this in mind, how has Senegal ensured that its economic recovery plan is also just and inclusive for all workers, and also supports other at-risk and vulnerable groups such as women and youth?
Khoudia Kane: Since the beginning of the pandemic in Senegal, the President of the Republic, Mr. Macky Sall, has found the funds to support vulnerable families: the heads of families, of communities, who had seen all of their professional activity cease. That was the first step – to address daily needs during the confinement, Senegal experimented.
Khoudia Kane: During the confinement, people were no longer moving. Usually the Senegalese, most of whom work in the informal sector, are always travelling to the markets. And as we know, the largest market in Senegal is in Dakar. So those who had returned to the villages had to receive support, whether men or women, through community schemes, through the town halls and local authorities. That was a first act.
Khoudia Kane: Now in a much more formal way, the President of the Republic has asked each Department to formulate a recovery plan that will allow him, in the end, to make a general recovery plan to stop some of the effects of the pandemic.
Khoudia Kane: Now, at the Ministry of the Environment, with the Department of Green Finance and Partnerships, we are going to support projects to promote green jobs that bring together many more women and young people in aquaculture, organic market gardening, and solar energy. And we hope that with these actions, we will be able to consolidate their existing activities to allow them to begin their cruising phase and increase the number of jobs.
Khoudia Kane: We believe that with these projects, it’s more than building capacity for these women – these women will be the relays for other women and these young people will be the relays for other young people, who will be able to associate with and carry out a green activity. So of course gender is taken into account – especially women and youth, who are considered vulnerable targets, with all of the green employment projects we are developing targeting these.
Colm Hastings: You’ve spoken before about the role of green innovation and entrepreneurship in promoting new employment opportunities for both youth groups and other vulnerable stakeholders. What steps has Senegal taken to promote such employment opportunities as part of its economic recovery plan? And to what extent should this process be led or supported by the private sector?
Khoudia Kane: From the beginning of 2013, we had to work in partnership with micro-finance because we had, between 2013 and 2017, a fund to promote employment promotion projects. This fund was placed at the level of microfinance to be able to take into account and finance small green employment projects submitted by women or men. We did this over five years, and this pilot phases allowed us to learn a lot about entrepreneurship: as such – how is it perceived by young people and women? But also, how can we better supervise the green sectors, which are different to the traditional sectors?
Khoudia Kane: When we talk about the informal sectors – such as trade – you can buy a product today, sell it this afternoon or tomorrow and make a profit. Which is different from green employment projects where there are maturation times, for example with aquaculture. When you have the fry, the ponds, and everything already in place, you would have to wait another six months before having a cohort of fish to take to market.
Khoudia Kane: And in the meantime, we would have to find ways to provide these young people with a niche market that would allow them to earn an income while they wait for their aquaculture station to mature. And the Department had to explore this type of financing, and a partnership with microfinance, which enabled us to challenge the private sector – for example, the banks – and tell them: “Listen, this type of industry works. This kind of project works.”
Khoudia Kane: When a youth or women’s group submits project documents to you about plastic recycling, about fish farming, or about forestry, don’t be afraid because we see that these are the areas that you can make work – that you can finance and have a profitability that allows you to pay the credit, generate resources for members and even employ other youth or other women who are not in the group or who are not the grassroots entrepreneurs that have formed the project.
Khoudia Kane: From this perspective, today we are in the process of challenging larger banks on this issue, of green jobs and green entrepreneurship, by trying to establish a partnership that will allow us to set-up a dedicated fund in a local bank. A major bank in the commercial banking sector, that is dedicated to green entrepreneurship.
Khoudia Kane: Because often, we hear from green project leaders who come to us and say yes, we have written our project – for example, on the recycling of plastic waste. But when you go to the bank, bankers do not perceive the usefulness or the added value of this activity.
Khoudia Kane: We helped with microfinance.¬¬¬¬ If today what the Department is developing works – such as setting up a fund dedicated to green entrepreneurship – it will allow us to have many more green projects financed and allow many more women and young people to work in this direction.
Colm Hastings: So as a final question – and this relates again to what we have been discussing about creating new employment opportunities for youth. What is the role of education and training in shaping the young minds needed to build a green workforce, and what steps have Senegal been taking to support this?
Khoudia Kane: I was saying that it’s true that for each target, you need a channel to be able to reach the target. Now to target young people, for example, we have in our Department – in the Ministry of Environment – a unit that deals with all information and sensitisation in primary schools, high schools and colleges.
Khoudia Kane: They hold sessions where they travel to high schools with technicians and with the Directors of different Departments. For example, a technician from the Department of Marine Protected Areas; a technician sometimes from the Department of Environment and Classified Establishments; a technician from the Department of National Parks, to talk about the protection of animals, etc.
Khoudia Kane: And when they make these trips, it is to show young people that – of course, we must protect the environment – but also that there are career opportunities in these sectors. That just because we have always heard of lawyers, economists, teachers, it doesn’t mean we must always go into these traditional professions. Because if we have challenges to take up and these sectors inevitably provide employment opportunities, you should now start to contribute in relation to climate change, in relation to our environment.
Khoudia Kane: In fact, we support high schools, colleges and primary schools – where there is space within the school grounds – to have an organic garden, to have a mini vegetable garden, to have a nursery, or a fishpond. And it allows the children to familiarize themselves with these products so that they can also be open-minded about these professions, which of course over time become normalized.
Khoudia Kane: Here, for example, you can talk about horticulturists. People automatically think of someone that sells flowers on the street corner, whereas horticulture is much more specialized than that. You can be professionally trained in it. And it’s now up to them to have this open-mindedness, because the world is changing.
Khoudia Kane: We talk about climate change. We explain to them that it’s broken and that we should adapt. So we have to review our modes of development, and promote clean modes of production and sustainable consumption at the level of primary schools, high schools and colleges. And it works because we are sending people towards green sectors. We even have a university that deals with sustainable development issues in Bambey, and there is another university under construction.
Khoudia Kane: So having a unit here at the Ministry of the Environment which raises awareness among the younger generation – about climate change issues, and about questions of resilience – has helped us because there are now universities that are working on this very issue, and because people are now training outside of the country and then returning to work in Senegal.
Colm Hastings: And finally we speak to Damien Lankoandé. Damien is Founder and Executive Director of GRAAD Burkina – a leading green economy research institution in Burkina Faso. Here he describes how green jobs development can support a green recovery in Africa.
Damien Lankoandé: You know in Africa, in West Africa I know better. In general, economic sectors – I’m talking about industry, or the private sector – is still running mainly in the way of business as usual. I mean production processes, energy use, machines – they work mainly with old processes, old machines etc. And then currently, what they are doing is the subject of huge and very important pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases. So, in this situation for me, green jobs can help for mitigation as a start point.
Damien Lankoandé: You know in Africa, the economic sector is mainly characterized by informality. So there is not sometimes an important capacity of investment, to buy like big machines, new computers etc. So the capacity to have green jobs – even if it’s from COVID-19 – can help as a start point. Because for me, it’s cheaper I can say in terms of transforming the process of production, and also the way they are selling or distributing the goods they are producing. We can rely on that because we see after, to face the situation of COVID-19, there is a lot of innovation. And these innovations, sometimes created jobs – maybe it’s not so green that we need, but it’s green jobs. So it’s for me, it’s a start point. And African countries, the private sector can learn from this situation. Now they can know it’s possible sometimes to work in another way. It’s in this way for me green jobs can be a very, very, very important contribution – can help Africa to have a green recovery from COVID-19.
Colm Hastings: As a follow-up question then, I would ask how can governments make this a reality? We know that each country has its own unique set of socio-economic, environmental, and political characteristics which often define and shape their priorities, as well as any challenges that they may be facing. But what would you say are some of the key, core elements that governments should look to build their recoveries around, and which at the same time can promote green jobs opportunities?
Damien Lankoandé: What we can see in the five countries in West Africa in which we conducted this study, we have a lot of innovations that are important in terms of greening the economy. We saw the application – in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast – innovation in terms of e-distribution. Instead of letting people move to a place, to another place so they can buy or sell what they have, their product without moving to the market. And this kind of application helped to reduce movement and then the emission of greenhouse gases.
Damien Lankoandé: In Niger, in Senegal we have Artificial Intelligence innovation, in Ghana also. And what governments can do is to support technically and financially the best green innovations in this area. Because we see the innovators – they have ideas, they have the will, but sometimes in the specific sector or question, there is no skills, no capacity in the area – maybe in the country, or in the West Africa region. And at this point, governments can help them to have this specific capacity, to support the innovator.
Damien Lankoandé: And also, we saw the innovators mainly in the informal sector. They are youth, they don’t have much money. What they have is the idea, good ideas. So they need finance to develop the idea. And for me, this is the two points in which governments can help or support green job development in Africa as part of a green recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. Identify the innovation and innovators. Try to establish the power of this innovation, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or reducing human activity impact on the health. Support technically and financially the best green innovations that are being identified clearly.
Colm Hastings: So another big initiative, green jobs initiative that I understand is taking place in Africa right now is the Great Green Wall, which is trying to create I believe 10 million green jobs by 2030. So I’m interested to know how this initiative has been progressing so far. Do you think it’s one that can be replicated in either other parts of Africa, or other parts of the world as a model for green jobs creation? And what challenges has it presented?
Damien Lankoandé: Green Wall initiative – it’s a great important initiative in its objective, in terms of greening the economy in general, and protecting our space from desertification etc. So it’s a model for me, that other countries can copy or follow. For me, the main challenges are standards. You know sometimes we are talking, we talk about green economy, green jobs in Africa. But we don’t have actually for most of the countries, standards to measure what is green or not green – these norms that help to produce good statistics, following what we are doing. And this is for me a big challenge also for the Green Wall initiative. We need to have these standards that can help us to make sure what we are creating – I mean jobs or other things – are actually green, and then we are moving on the right way.
Colm Hastings: I think the standards thing is a very important point. Even in terms of the green economy, and really measuring progress and what a green economy actually means. So that’s a very interesting point. I think looking from a slightly different angle now, relating to some of your more recent work. It’s true that parts of Africa have been commended for its management of the COVID-19 pandemic. So I wanted to ask, can its response to COVID-19 – and the knowledge and skills that it has clearly demonstrated – can that now fuel and support Africa’s green recovery efforts, and can it now perhaps begin to set an example that the rest of the world can follow?
Damien Lankoandé: What I can say is for me, without knowledge and experience it’s difficult to do better. So knowledge from the COVID-19 pandemic, example and experience – it’s for me a lesson of capacity. Most of the time you said it – African countries cannot face this kind of situation. And the pandemic has shown that different face of the initial analysis. I think the experience has given more confidence to Africans, in terms of facing this kind of situation – I’m talking about natural catastrophes, sanitary crises etc.
Damien Lankoandé: We have to expect, to prepare ourselves for other crises. And what is good for us, for green economy, is that this knowledge and experience shows we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing our behaviours of production and consumption. Some behaviours – in terms of production, consumption, travel – can be changed. It’s one of the main lessons we can draw for Africa – this capacity, this experience, and lesson of capacity.
Colm Hastings: So you’ve talked about some of the positive aspects, or the positive lessons that Africa can take. How do they make sure that they implement these lessons now moving forwards? And that we don’t just return to, as you said before, business as usual and the traditional ways of travelling, or producing and consuming? How do we ensure that we take advantage of the innovations that have been created, how can we make sure that that happens moving forwards?
Damien Lankoandé: In general I’m optimistic, but we have to work hard. With researchers, think tanks, civil society, and international organizations. Why? If you look very well, it’s what we saw in our research from West African countries. The main objective or purpose of recovery policy was mainly social and economic. The impact we have on greenhouse gas emissions is an indirect impact, I can see. So what we have to do is show – to investigate, and show clearly with evidence what was the impact of this measure in terms of reducing our impact on the environment. And what is the benefit the countries, different countries can have, can get from taking this initiative, as in terms of durability etc.
Damien Lankoandé: To find a way, and to show the importance of what has been done – the innovations, what they produced in terms of benefits, green jobs creation. Because sometimes the States – yes they have the will, but they need to be pushed. And this is what the different partners, stakeholders I’m talking about can help to do. To push States with data, evidence that shows what is the benefit gotten from this situation – these activities and innovations that help us to reduce our impact on the environment. If not, I’m afraid after COVID-19 we will return back to the same situation before.
Colm Hastings: That was The Green Renaissance. Please subscribe on SoundCloud, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts to receive new episodes each month. Also don’t forget to give us a rating if you enjoy this series, and if you’d like to learn more about the green recovery the Partnership for Action on Green Economy has developed a series of e-learning courses on key green recovery topics. Just visit www.unccelearn.org and enroll for free today. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you soon.