AFRICA: the new GACERE alliance for the adoption of the circular economy

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AFRICA: the new GACERE alliance for the adoption of the circular economy© Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

The Global Alliance for Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE) has just been launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Commission to give global leadership to initiatives related to the transition to the circular economy and resource efficiency. This new alliance will support the African continent in its much-needed transition to the circular economy, sustainable development and the preservation of natural resources.

The United Nations (UN) places great hope in the new Global Alliance for Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE). The alliance, which brings together governments and international organisations, was initiated by the European Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

The objective of GACERE is to encourage initiatives related to the transition to the circular economy, resource efficiency, sustainable consumption and production patterns and inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. “The transition to a circular, clean and resource-efficient economy is increasingly recognised as a necessity to address the ecological crises facing the world. The circular economy offers opportunities to stimulate innovation and make the transition fairer by creating green jobs and reducing environmental impacts,” explains Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.

The participation of African countries

Several African countries, ahead of the climate and environmental issues, have already integrated the GACERE. This is the case of Rwanda and Kenya. The continent’s heavyweights such as South Africa and Nigeria will also work with the new alliance. GACERE will accompany these member countries towards the gradual adoption of a circular economy in several sectors in Africa.

Beyond sustainable waste management, the circular economy also integrates electricity, agriculture, urban infrastructure, as well as transport, plastics, manufacturing and textile industries, etc. According to Requier Wait, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, the circular economy must be at the heart of Africa’s development process. Given the continent’s rapid population growth and urbanisation, he says, planners need to design systems that enable cities to become resilient and resource efficient.

 “Circular systems can help reduce the growing volumes of waste in cities and improve waste management, with positive effects on the environment, health and the urban economy. In particular, the establishment of economic activities for resource recovery, reuse and recycling could help create jobs for growing urban populations,” says Requier Wait.

Initiatives in favour of the circular economy

In North Africa, where water stress is persistent, the reuse of treated wastewater has become an alternative, especially for the development of irrigated agriculture, which is essential in countries such as Egypt and Morocco. In the country of the pharaohs, the new wastewater treatment plants that are being built are no longer solely for sanitation purposes. The construction of these installations is now part of a fairly rigorous strategy of water resource preservation.

In addition to government action in favour of the circular economy, financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) are providing funding and multiplying initiatives in favour of sustainability. The pan-African financial institution based in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), for example, has launched the Africa Circular Economy Facility (ACEF). This is a €4 million multi-donor trust fund to support the adoption of circular practices in AfDB regional member countries. The new Global Alliance for Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency is expected to encourage the establishment of similar mechanisms.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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