The United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) is running a five-day training workshop in Lusaka, Zambia. The aim of the workshop is to equip African researchers, businesses, environmentalists and economists with the necessary tools to be able to identify potential risks that their business activities pose to the environment and develop effective management strategies to mitigate them.
The training workshop, which is on the theme “Greening Business through Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”, is one of the major activities under the institute’s Green Economy Project entitled “Unleashing the Potential of African Rural Economies through Green Growth”, a project that is being supported by the International Development Research Centre.
The workshop also aims at enhancing the participants’ understanding of the roles and responsibilities of businesses in the conservation and use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to ensure a successful transition towards green economy in Africa.
The UNU-INRA Green Economy Research Fellow, Dr. Calvin Atewamba, stated that in as much as human beings have to depend on nature for business and food, the impact of their activities on the environment have to be mitigated.
“All businesses are dependent on the planet’s biological diversity and all business activities impact either negatively or positively on the environment. Providing reliable information and tools to assess business impact on natural resources and how to manage these risks and opportunities could play a critical role in accelerating Africa’s transition to a green economy”, stated Dr. Atewamba.
He also noted that business activities, particularly in the extractive industries have led to challenges including over-exploitation of oceans, pollution and climate change, and appealed to organisations to integrate nature values into their corporate strategies. Dr. Atewamba admonished businesses to put in place monitoring and evaluation systems to reduce the risks of their operations on mankind and nature. Doing this, he said, will help improve their reputation.
The Director of UNU-INRA, Dr. Elias T. Ayuk, in explaining the importance of the workshop, underscored the institute’s commitment to capacity strengthening in natural resources management in Africa.
“We organise these workshops to bridge the gap between knowledge and delivery. This particular workshop is very important because African businesses need to pay more attention to the impact of their activities on the environment”, Dr. Ayuk said.
The twenty-one participants attending the workshop come from different African countries including Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.