According to UNEP (2010, 2011), the ‘green economy’ encompasses all economic opportunities arising from actions to promote sustainability, improve human well-being and social equity, and significantly reduce ecological scarcities and environmental risks. Achieving higher levels of material and non-material well-being while decoupling economic growth rates from rates of resource extraction and environmental impacts, is the base measure of whether any sustainability is being achieved in reality. Adaptive capacity is necessary for sustaining long term transitions to sustainability, and this requires robust, nested systems that can withstand exogenous shocks and pressures without fundamentally changing controls, processes, functions and identity. Behavioural change is also required to support new green economy activities, so an understanding of the values, beliefs and norms that drive socio-economic behaviours such as consumption and waste is essential. Lastly, realising green economic development at multiple, often nested scales also requires that endogenous and exogenous drivers of change be adequately appreciated and harnessed where possible (for example, in the case of niche developments that can catalyse green economic development and transitions to sustainability).
The challenge of realising green economic development in Africa is contingent on the capacity of national, subnational and local governments to support integrated development strategies that take specific measures to seed and catalyse transitions to sustainability, and avoid spending limited funds on initiatives that are contrary to this aim. This project aims at developing a toolbox to assist in operationalizing Green Economy transitions at a sub-national level in Africa. The project is being implemented by a consortium of three institutions: Sustainability Institute (lead institution), United Nations University – Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, and the Stockholm Environment Institute. The expected duration of the project is one year, with a budget of US$200,000.00 from UNEP.