Promoting Conservation and Developing a Green Economy

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  • This programme of the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) addresses the separate but intersecting areas of biodiversity conservation and green economy.

    The Green Economy Initiative of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), with its payment for ecosystem services (PES) concept, as well as various national biodiversity initiatives in Africa aim mainly to ensure that biodiversity and ecosystem services will be well reflected in natural resource management strategies and policies. The concept of a green economy is relatively new in most of Africa. As a consequence, the nexus between biodiversity conservation, PES and a green economy has not yet been well established or well understood by the various stakeholders, such as governments and other policymakers, financial institutions, the private sector and civil society groups.

    Africa’s forests host a very significant proportion of the world’s reservoir of genetic resources. There is thus the need to promote this thematic area among the various stakeholders in Africa. But Africa cannot “conserve” what it does not know it has and it often does not appreciate what it has either. There is a serious lack of scientists capable of identifying, classifying and understanding the value of Africa’s genetic resources. UNU-INRA seeks to catalyse the development of capacity for taxonomy and systematics in Africa’s universities. The aim of this programme is to encourage and assist African governments and decision makers to review and refocus their policies, investment and public spending towards utilizing their natural resources to promote clean technologies, including biotechnologies, renewable energy, agriculture and waste management.

    Focal Point

    The UNU-INRA focal point is Dr. Timothy A. Koomson.


    The objectives of this programme are to provide training to stakeholders on methods such as PES as a potential means of lifting poor rural households out of poverty and ensuring future environmental security and sustainability; to catalyse capacity development in Africa’s universities to supply much-needed talents in plant and animal taxonomy and systematics; to design strategies to exploit the potential of biodiversity-based industries; to determine the environmental and economic impacts and relevance of invasive species on biodiversity and food security; to promote the conservation, development and commercialization of underutilized crops and species with emphasis on medicinal and other useful plants; and to understand the approaches to close the complex and “leaky” nitrogen and phosphorous nutrient cycles.


    This programme will be implemented through collaborative and comparative research, the organization of policy workshops and the development of a knowledge management system.


    UNU-INRA’s research, training and capacity development activities are not gender-neutral. Data analysis will be gender-disaggregated and the gender dimensions of the activities will be highlighted so as to inform policy. The participation of women will be given high priority.

    Target Audience

    The target beneficiaries of this programme will be government ministries, policymakers, researchers, regional organisations and non-governmental organisations.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the regional level
    Target: Regional organisations and policymaking bodies will be the target of this programme.
    How: Regional conferences and workshops to disseminate research findings will be used.

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the national level
    Target: The target audience consists of policymakers at the national level and civil society organisations.
    How: This will be accomplished through the organisation of national seminars and policy dialogues.

    Impact: Furthering knowledge in an academic field
    Target: The target audience includes universities, research institutions and policy experts at national ministries in the respective countries.
    How: Through collaborative research and dissemination of results.

    Impact: Curriculum development
    Target: African universities will be the primary targets.
    How: This will be accomplished by assisting the universities in developing curricula for conversation and green economy training.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: Researchers at African universities and other stakeholders like government officials involved in multilateral negotiations
    How: This will be accomplished through training workshops, stakeholder consultations, seminars and policy dialogues.

    Value Added

    Research on biodiversity conservation and green economy is quite thin at the moment on the African continent. This programme will make a unique contribution to knowledge creation on the subject matter and lead the way in assisting the key stakeholders in understanding the potential of green growth to benefit the rural population of Africa.


    The main outputs of this programme will include research reports, journal articles, policy briefs and a volume to be jointly published by UNU-INRA and the International Tropical Timber Organization. The research output will be widely disseminated through conferences and workshops.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    The programme commenced1 January 2012 and will run through December 2013.


    The programme will be evaluated in early 2014.


    A major constraint faced by UNU-INRA is the availability of financial resources to recruit qualified staff to implement the programme. The degree of implementation of the programme therefore hinges on identifying and bringing on-board the appropriate staff. Another challenge will be the availability of researchers at African universities who are keen to undertake work in plant and animal taxonomy and systematics.

    Expected Duration

    The programme is expected to run for a duration of 24 months, from 1 January 2012 through 31 December 2013.

  • Activities within the programme will involve cooperation between the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa and four partners:

    • UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research
    • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
    • United Nations Environmental Programme
    • The International Tropical Timber Organisation
  • United Nations University
    Institute for Natural Resources in Africa

    International House
    Annie Jiage Road
    University of Ghana, Legon Campus
    Accra, Ghana.

    T: +233-302-500396
    F: +233-302-500792