Nairobi, March 14 (IANS): A project in Sri Lanka that converts tuk-tuks into electric power trains generating zero tailpipe emissions has received the European Union (EU) acclaim.
So did another initiative in the Philippines that has been transforming textile waste destined for landfill into higher-value products, such as footwear and clothes.
These facts came to light during a roundtable at the UN Environment Assembly in the Kenyan capital on Thursday when UN Environment and the EU came together to share insights on SWITCH to Green — a major global initiative that supports governments in their transition to green economies.
The roundtable brought these regional programmes together to showcase the achievements that inspired green entrepreneurial efforts and policymaking.
Both Sri Lanka and the Philippines winners — Sasiranga De Silva and Pamela Nicole, respectively — were among the 12 winners from Asia.
The primary aim of SWITCH to Green is to turn environmental challenges into opportunities. It is based on the understanding that an inclusive green economy, which features sustainable consumption and production patterns, is at the core of sustainable development.
“Greening the economy is not just about the environment. It also offers multiple benefits, like job creation, poverty reduction, economic diversification and income generation,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of New York office of UN Environment Satya Tripathi.
“SWITCH to Green is a strategic vehicle that’s driving this transition. The UN Environment appreciates the partnership with the EU and others in laying the foundation for a better and equitable future for everyone,” Tripathi said.
The initiative, developed by the EU Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, builds on a series of regional SWITCH programmes like SWITCH Asia and SWITCH Africa Green, covering over 39 countries.
Collectively, the programmes have contributed to adoption of sustainable consumption and production practices by 100,000 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, sustaining 350,000 jobs and leveraging investments of over $1.1 billion by project beneficiaries.
Some of the ways in which SWITCH programmes help governments move towards sustainable consumption and production include, providing access to green financing, policies and standards, and eco-entrepreneurship.
SWITCH-Asia attained wide acclaim through its Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyle Challenge, which aims to support young people with business ideas to foster low-waste and low-carbon lifestyles through startups.
Launched in 2014, SWITCH Africa Green has been steering six African countries towards sustainable consumption and production patterns, while also generating economic growth.
One project beneficiary, Newton Owino now makes fish leather from fish skin, adding value to a fisheries by-product that would otherwise be discarded as waste, one that pollutes the environment as it decomposes.
He has also reached, for the first time, new leather markets in several countries in Europe and North America.