Speakers highlighted that Africa faces a paradox of plenty with rich hydrocarbon and mineral resources, while remaining largely energy poor.
Africa’s policymakers must avoid the risk of stranded hydrocarbon resources and use them to drive the continent’s industrialization agenda.
An event held virtually on the sidelines of the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) addressed risks associated with transitioning away from fossil fuels, and opportunities for diversification and sustainable development in Africa.The event titled, ‘Managing Stranded Assets Risks and Opportunities: Moving Towards Decarbonized Economies and Inclusive Growth in Africa,’ also drew on developed country strategies and ways in which a just recovery can be achieved through international solidarity.
The event was organized by the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).
The session built on the UNU-INRA report on African Development in the Age of Stranded Assets, which discusses Africa’s development in light of potential asset stranding. The report aims to raise awareness on the need for effective natural resource management by African governments to achieve lower-carbon economies.
Osabarima Owusu Baafi Aboagye III, Chief of Akyem Dwenase, presented a keynote message on behalf of Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, King of Akyem Abuakwa, Ghana. He said Africa’s policymakers must avoid the risk of stranded hydrocarbon resources and use them to drive the continent’s industrialization agenda.
Shinjiro Koizumi, Minister of the Environment, Japan, highlighted partnerships with developing countries to support the SDGs through integrated policy approaches.
Fatima Denton, Director, UNU-INRA, said COVID-19 has created major problems for hydrocarbon-dependent economies, with the sharp decrease in global oil prices. She explained Africa faces a paradox of plenty with rich hydrocarbon and mineral resources, while remaining largely energy poor. She highlighted the need to, inter alia:
- decouple economic growth from carbon intensive investments;
- scale up solar PV deployment;
- harness renewable energy potential;
- investment in digital economies; and
- unlock climate finance.
On ways to manage the risks of stranded assets and opportunities of green transitions in Africa, panelists emphasized, among others, the importance of public sector investment to leverage private investment in clean energy solutions. They also discussed ways to ensure green transitions in urban spaces and support sustainable cities in Africa, emphasizing that decarbonization creates green jobs. Panelists also emphasized the need to include measures to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in COVID-19 recovery strategies, and break policymaking silos and follow diverse pathways that include renewable energy.