Monday, 18 June 2012

ECA study underscores progress in sustainable development within Eastern Africa

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 17 June 2012 (ECA) - Eastern Africa sub region has taken some concrete steps to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development in the region, in spite of the lingering challenges, concludes a new report being circulated at Rio+20 Conference  by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The report states that the three pillars - economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection - are progressively being integrated in the region which has some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, although high levels of poverty persist.

According to ECA's Information and Communication Service, the study "Progress towards sustainable development in Eastern Africa" applauds the progress made in Eastern Africa in deepening regional integration within Regional Economic Communities such as  the East African Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The study also cites specific joint actions within the region to ensure environmental sustainability, including the EAC climate change policy and strategy; regional guidelines on environmental impact assessment and protocols on natural resources.

To create wealth, the subregion has taken interrelated actions aimed at reducing supply side constraints, improving competitiveness and fostering advantage, the study says, adding however that these actions need to be scaled-up and replicated across the subregion.

Citing various interconnectivity projects between Uganda and Tanzania; Ethiopia and Kenya and Kenya/Rwanda, the study shows that the subregion has taken action to improve trade competitiveness through   the improvement of regional hard and soft infrastructure, transparency and predictability of trade and the general quality of the business environment.

It refers to Article 13 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol  which abolishes non-tariff barriers and the Standards Committee which has eliminated technical barriers to trade, promoting freer flow of goods and services and protecting the health and safety of consumers and the environment.

The study highlights key subregional actions in agriculture, food security and climate change, describing EAC's regional climate change policy and strategy as a good example of an integrated approach to the challenge posed by climate change.

"The advantage of a regional approaches are that the skills across the region can be tapped for the mutual benefit of all partner States while the various levels of implementation offer those involved the opportunities to learn from one another with the possibility of technology transfer where necessary and appropriate," the study observes.

The study, however, says that the subregion faces serious "implementation challenges and constraints", including a lack of critical technical capabilities.

The shift to new and sustainable approaches to production, distribution and consumption requires whole sets of specialized human, knowledge, logistical and technical resources, which, it says, many of the countries in the subregion lack.

The study also points to shortcomings in the areas of coherent policy and institutional resources that could help create the relevant infrastructure and mange the inevitable tradeoffs in the water, energy and agriculture sectors within the subregion.

The subregion is also still struggling with the impact of HIV and AIDS, it states.

The study was carried out with the assistance of the African Development Bank. 

As the main arm of the United Nations on development issues in Africa, ECA in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank spearheaded Africa's technical preparations for the Rio+20 process.