United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

SEED initiative celebrates entrepreneurs accelerating transition to a green economy


Pretoria (South Africa) / Nairobi -- Nearly 200 participants of a Green Economy symposium organized by the SEED Initiative, which is hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), met today with the 30 global winners of the SEED Awards to look at ways to accelerate the transition to a Green Economy in the developing world.

The Symposium focused on policies needed to accelerate the transition to a Green Economy and on the environmental and social contribution of community-level entrepreneurs in developing countries.

The SEED Awards recognize inspiring social and environmental entrepreneurs whose businesses can help meet sustainable development challenges, boost local economies and alleviate poverty. By helping entrepreneurs to scale-up their activities, SEED aims to refocus policies towards promoting Green Economic initiatives such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, water and waste management, eco-friendly tourism and green construction and transport.

The latest SEED Award winners largely come from Africa, placing particular emphasis on initiatives from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa. Together with Egypt, these are pilot countries in a joint project between SEED and UNEP's Green Economy Initiative which is funded largely by the European Union.

Among the winners were a bamboo bicycle project in Ghana that makes use of the country's vast bamboo supplies, a Ugandan enterprise manufacturing stationary from agricultural waste, a Chinese project producing a novel solar device that turns waste heat into electricity and a South African female-run business making a hand-held laundry device that saves water and cuts pollution.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: 'The SEED winners underline how the green shoots of a Green Economy are sprouting across the developing world. Governments and public policymakers can learn a lot from how these entrepreneurs have catalyzed creative solutions to local challenges and in doing so generated livelihoods, employment, environmental benefits and ways of eradicating poverty within and outside their communities.'

'Next year's Rio+20 meeting is an opportunity to scale-up and accelerate these kinds of transitions. Our SEED winners offer valuable insights and knowledge on what works and how best this can be realized,' he added.

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