“Restore Our Earth!” was the theme and rallying cry for this year’s Earth Day on 22 April. This is not something that could be achieved on a single day. Yet, Earth Day 2021 might signal a greater turning of the tide as the world enters the “Green Twenties.”
Europe–Africa relations are facing a double challenge – the COVID-19 pandemic puts social and economic systems under strain at a point when the consequences of the climate crisis are being increasingly felt on both continents. Within Africa and Europe, debates have started about recovery measures to address the pandemic’s short and medium-term socio-economic consequences. A key question in these debates is how to “build back better” and use the crisis to promote green transitions and move towards more sustainable development pathways.
In this guest contribution for ECDPM, Dr Jide Martyns Okeke argues that collective African leadership and deliberate investments in boosting intra-African trade and digital transformation could accelerate the quest for silencing the guns on the continent.
The unprecedented scale of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic calls for greater empowerment of international, European and regional financial institutions for development, development finance institutions (DFIs) and public development banks. They all need to step up their efforts, to ‘build back better’, in a greener, more inclusive and gender-sensitive manner. This paper suggests ways to do that, adjusting the current business model of financial institutions for development to align and coordinate European investments for development.
As European Think Tanks we proposed the conference event because we would like to encourage discussions around the importance of aligning both policies and finance with the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs to chart a course towards inclusive, equitable and low carbon development.
“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It affects us all.”
The EU intends to play a pioneering role in the future, armed with a “clear and coherent Arctic policy”. If this is to succeed, the EU will need to take the lessons learned from the pandemic into account because COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities and challenges in the region, particularly in terms of infrastructure and healthcare.
Covid-19 brought a brief respite in the growth of carbon emissions. The challenge now is to achieve a long-term decrease. We must seize the moment to turn the coronavirus crisis into the green opportunity the world needs most.
Beginning in July, Germany will hold the European Council Presidency until the end of the year, a term that will be characterised by the effects of the corona pandemic and the efforts to manage it. The Council Presidency should be used to mould the processes of the EU recovery plan and the MFF in a way that delivers decisive impulses for an orientation towards climate and sustainability goals. A further summit of the EU heads of state and government will take place in July, tasked with reaching agreement on the EU recovery plan.
The need for a greener recovery geared towards meeting environmental targets and climate neutrality, a subject of intense debate since the beginning of the crisis, is at the heart of the European recovery plan announced this week. The acceleration of the Green Deal is presented as one of the two pillars that should guide the European economic recovery, alongside the digital transition.
The pandemic offers an opportunity to shape climate-friendly recovery packages that both boost shorter-term job creation and incomes, and generate long-term sustainability benefits. Polling shows large popular support for recovery packages to prioritise climate change.