Welcome to HoA-REC&N
BY MICHAEL BERKOWITZ
Three years ago, 100 Resilient Cities was pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation with an ambitious goal: to help cities worldwide build resilience to the growing social, economic, and physical challenges of the 21st century.
The First Africa Sustainable Development Forum concluded on Thursday, 12 May 2016 at the HoA-REC&N Headquarters in Gullele Botanic Garden, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The flagship event of HoA-REC&N and TERI epitomises Track II diplomacy by providing an enabling atmosphere that encourages people-to-people dialogues and fosters understanding and collective action to achieve the goals of sustainable development.
Day two of the forum began with a discussion about urban resilience, with Addis Ababa being an example for urban resilience. Mr. Haile Fisseha, Addis Ababa City Manager, highlighted several of the initiatives to make the city more resilient, including a new rivers institute that will pilot two projects on the rivers that run through Addis Ababa. Mrs. Almaz Mekonnen, Head of Addis Ababa City Beautification, Park and Cemetery Administration and Development Agency, told the audience about the large scale greening project that is happening throughout the city. Addis Ababa is on the short list to be one of the 100 Resilient Cities.
The session on urban resilience was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the private sector operating in Ethiopia. Representatives from Sher Ethiopia, (B)energy, Soil & More, Enat Bank, Ethiopia Climate Innovation Centre, and the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) discussed the role of business in development. The panel discussion featured a lively debate about whether or not grants are helpful or harmful for private sector development.
During the afternoon, the large group split into two different sessions. The Africa Youth Climate Change Platform hosted a preparatory meeting for the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP), which will be held in Morocco later this year and will be an important follow up meeting to last year’s Paris Agreement at COP 21. Concurrently, there was a roundtable meeting about facilitating universal and sustainable access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. With sustainable energy actors throughout the region present, this roundtable meeting created an excellent environment for knowledge sharing.
Following these meetings, ASDF 2016 came to a close and set the stage for the second annual ASDF in 2017.
Dr. Araya Asfaw, Executive Director of HoA-REC&N, opened the event with a speech that highlighted the need for integration in development works on how this fits into the Sustainable Development Goals. Further speeches built on this idea, and the two themes that were present throughout the opening speeches were the importance of youth and the need for action. Professor Alaphia Wright, Director – UNESCO Liaison Office to AUC, UNECA and Representative to Ethiopia, put this succinctly when he said, “We live in an age of action and not just speeches.” The other opening speakers included: Mr. Samba Harouna Thiam, Head of UNEP Liaison Office to AUC, UNECA and Representative to Ethiopia; Dr. RK Pachauri, President of the World Sustainable Development Forum; Mr. Assegid Getachew, Addis Ababa City Government; and Ms. Ghrmawit Haile, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ethiopia.
Results indicate that for some physicochemical parameters, including pH, potassium and iron, over 50% of the values were above the maximum permissible limit of the Ethiopian standard for drinking water. Furthermore, concentrations of pesticides demonstrated risks with regards to drinking water and an acute risk to aquatic microorganisms living in the lake. Further studies are needed to show water quality changes over time and space, but the current study provides a strong baseline for future research.
An encouraging finding from the study is that relative to a 2011 study, pesticide detections have decreased in the lake. This is likely a result of improved liquid waste management practices among both small- and large-scale agricultural operations, as well as improved agricultural practices, like Integrated Pest Management.
The full paper is open-access and available for download here.