Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"Africa: the global leapfrogging opportunity for green economy"

Desta Mebratu
Deputy Regional Director
United Nations Environment Program, Africa

Monday, Oct. 15, 2012
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"This seminar will offer a rare opportunity for our students to hear from an authority on his first-hand experience of promoting sustainability in Africa." — Sangwon Suh, faculty host

African countries are at a critical juncture of their development trajectories. As a region endowed with significant natural resources, Africa is considered to be the next frontier for economic development in the 21st century. In 2010, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies were in Africa, and seven African countries are expected to be in the top 10 over the next five years. At the same time, however, the resource basis of many productive sectors is facing threats of environmental degradation that include deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, loss of biodiversity, and depletion of fish stocks. These environmental challenges are further aggravated by the adverse impacts of climate change.   

The need for the transition to a green economy is promoted as a response to the confluence of economic, environmental, and social crises that have plagued the global economy in the past decade. An increasing number of African countries are embracing the transition to a green economy; doing so could offer considerable opportunities for mobilizing resources toward a low-emission, climate-resilient development pathway. The fact that most of these countries are at the early stage of their development gives them a high “leapfrogging” potential to develop their economies on a more sustainable basis. This talk reviews the key economic, social, and environmental factors of the region and shows why Africa could be taken as a global leapfrogging opportunity for the transition to a green economy.  

Desta Mebratu is an Ethiopian national who serves as Deputy Regional Director of United Nations Environmental Program’s Regional Office for Africa, located in Nairobi, Kenya. A chemical engineer, he received a PhD in engineering in Industrial Environmental Economics from Lund University, Sweden, and an MBA in International Business from the American University in London. He has more than 23 years of experience working for industries, government agencies, universities, and international organizations. He joined UNEP in 2003. His main areas of expertise are cleaner and more resource-efficient production, environmental management systems, sustainable development policies and sustainable energy systems.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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