ADDIS ABABA - World Resources Institute (WRI), a global think-tank on environment and development issues has officially launched its first African office in Addis in what it said would help to replicate Ethiopia’s proven approaches in green economy to other African countries.
WRI is working to make sure that decision makers in the public, government and private sectors have the information, tools and data at hand to make choices to alleviate poverty and ensure growth without causing deforestation, climate change and changing land use, WRI Director Europe and Africa, Katty van der Heijden exclusively told The Ethiopian Herald on Tuesday.
The reasons behind the motive to locate the regional office in Ethiopia is two folds; one is that Ethiopia has such a visionary ambition with climate green economy and has been recognized as the global leader for proven approaches in climate change, Heijden underlined.
Once Ethiopia succeeds in these areas, it is easy for WRI to replicate the result to other African countries, she noted.
Secondly, she put the reason that Addis Ababa is the diplomatic capital of Africa, so if WRI wants to impact big in urbanization, food security and climate change, it can reach 54 ministers in one goal through the AU and it can research on how to take decisions around tradeoffs through UNECA.
Ethiopia is the only logical place that WRI wants to be in Africa added Heijden, praising the commitment of the Ethiopian authorities to grow in a different way and responsibly in terms of the environment.
In the WRI aspirations, there are four priority areas to be taken in Ethiopia and broadly in Africa; providing science based advice for urbanization, water management forest protection and food security, according to the Regional Director.
“We look how we go economies and reduction of poverty without affecting the sensitive environment, she said before adding that development should not be like what the western world has done creating climate change.
“On average, economic inequality and poverty are still very high. Thus we want to do it the right way, in a manner that ensures social justice and that is environment friendly.”
If the case of China, India and other countries that have growing very fast has to be taken in to consideration, the resulting pollution is killing many people in these countries.
“And now, we look Ethiopia and the other fastest developing countries to grow in to different way,” she added.
She further stated that WRI will be in Africa for the long run. The Africa office and Ethiopia country office will invest in the continent in accordance with what the needs of the people, the governments and the private sector to ensure environment friendly growth.
WRI Executive Vice President and Managing Director Manish Bapna for his part said WRI works on how development and sustainability are interconnected.
“There are incredible needs to find new ways in which to grow, reduce poverty and promote economic development,” he said. “But for many years, people could either focus on growth or in protecting the environment but not both at the same time.”
The big issue that should be recognized today is that these two should go hand in hand in an inclusive and sustainable way and that is what WRI is planning to invest in Africa.
It will be additional drive to strengthen the Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economic policy and strategy through providing scientific findings concerning development and sustainability, stated Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Dr. Gemedo Dale.
WRI will help Ethiopia to increase the development of the so called bio-economy as it is endowed with natural resources, the Minister added.
With over 800 staffs worldwide, over 100 million total budget, including the head office in USA, WRI will work in Ethiopian in partnership with the governments of Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and institutions like the UNs, World Bank and local institutions.
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER