HIGH-LEVEL REGIONAL CONFERENCE
Circular Economy, Green Industries and Jobs in West Africa
Circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the economy as long as possible. It thus contributes to decoupling economic growth, production and consumption of natural resources. Generally, in a circular economy, materials used for new products come from old products. Where possible, the use of materials is optimized, and products are reused, repaired or, as a last resort, recycled as raw material or used as a source of energy.
Circular economy allows companies to innovate and improve their competitiveness by lowering their production costs and optimizing the use of raw materials (water, energy, inputs of all kinds). This approach also offers them the guarantee of maintaining access to the ever more demanding international markets and avoiding the financial risks related to the human and environmental damage that can be generated by their activity.
Increasingly, governments are encouraging - and in some cases demanding - the adoption of circular economy principles that lead to more efficient use of resources and reduced waste. At the global level, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN Member States in 2015 includes ambitious goals including sustainable economic growth (Goal 8), sustainable industrialization and innovation (Goal 9), sustainable production and consumption (target 12), climate action (target 13) and sustainable cities and communities (target 11), to name a few, which contribute and can benefit from a circular economy approach. Furthermore, in August 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 70/293 proclaiming the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa 2016-2025 (DDIA III), whose roadmap recommends "the establishment of technological level of African countries for sustainable industrial production ".
These questions concern both European and African countries. In both regions, the circular economy offers an opportunity to reduce the pressure on natural resources, eliminates pollution of all kinds and reduce production costs. It also offers the opportunity to make existing industries more efficient and develop new industrial sectors (green industries), new services and new skilled jobs.
The main objective of the Conference is to enable all public and private partners in West Africa and the European Union to improve their knowledge and develop their cooperation on the issues and opportunities of the circular economy and green industries to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including targets 9 on inclusive and sustainable industrialization, 12 on responsible consumption and production and 13 on climate change.
The Regional Conference aims to:
• Clarify the challenges and opportunities of the circular economy in Europe and West Africa
• Share public and private best practices in West Africa and in the European Union
• Identify the best national and regional policies and opportunities for international cooperation
Topics of particular interest for the dialogue:
• Waste prevention and waste management (plastics, construction, tires, electronic waste, including extended producer responsibility (EPR) regimes and deposit reporting systems (DRS),
• Air pollution / sustainable urban transport,
• Water management, including wastewater treatment
• Sustainable investments, governance
The conference will also be an opportunity to contribute to the objectives of the Third United Nations Decade on the Industrial Development of Africa 2016-2025 and the ones of the African Union - European Union Summit of November 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, aiming to mobilize investments for the structural transformation of African economies.
The conference participants will discuss the circular economy and green industries in an integrated perspective of economic, environmental and social approaches. This will include identifying opportunities and obstacles encountered and proposing innovative solutions in terms of public policies and private investments.
The participants in this international conference should agree on the conclusion of work on a Joint Declaration and / or Road Map on the circular economy and green industries in West Africa, recommending if possible concrete actions.
Organized by the European Union and UNIDO with the support of the Government of the Republic of Senegal and ECOWAS, the Conference will bring together decision-makers, scientists and academics, elected officials, representatives of civil society, professionals academics and experts from the public and private sectors. It will mobilize participants from the following partner institutions: the European Union, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and their respective Member States, engaged in the field of circular economy and green industries.