Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive has urged financial institutions and private sector actors to take advantage of the immense economic opportunities in the circular economy.
He said this would go a long way to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Mr. Sowah, who is a Board Member of The Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) and a Vice-Chair of C40 Cities, gave the advice when he addressed a forum on financing sustainable African cities in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It was hosted by C40 Cities’ Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative (FSCI), and supported by the Citi Foundation.
The aim of the forum was to highlight the huge investment opportunity in Africa and to provide a platform to display the potential of Africa’s city-level projects and opportunities available for investment to fight climate change.
“Climate change issues are development issues, we must ensure projects and developments are sustainable. We must also find solutions to financing projects that achieve climate change innovations. There is a big economic incentive in the circular economy and financial institutions and the private sector actor must rise to the challenge,” he said.
“We are not short of ideas, we are short of capital, our biggest issue right now is raising finance for sustainable development,” he added.
Mr. Sowah, who was recently named among the “World’s 100 Most influential People in Climate Change Policy 2019” said authorities in the city of Accra, were partnering the private sector to work towards achieving 50 per cent reduction in waste to landfills.
Mr. Sowah emphasised the importance of cities around the world paying greater attention to the issue of climate change, saying “environmental issues were at the heart of developmental issues currently. Sustainable issues are development issues.”
“Today, climate change is not an abstract issue, but a development issue in Africa and the world,” he said.
He said the Accra Metropolitan Assembly was aggressively pursuing citizen sensitisation for them to appreciate the linkages between local actions and impacts on environment.
“May, June, July are rainy seasons in Accra, with possibility of flooding. It’s important for us to explain to residents how our local actions impact on our environment, he said.
Herman Mashaba, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg emphasised the need for developing cities to focus on sustainability, given that they face the brunt of climate change, despite not being the biggest contributors.
He noted that, developing cities faced the challenge of having to expand economic growth, provide water, electricity and other resources, and keep dissent at bay when this does not happen as quickly as residents want.
“Owing to this, the issues of climate change and sustainability are not as big a priority for developing cities as they should be,” he said.
Adding, he said “It is integral to put sustainability at the forefront and center of cities’ daily work.
Other speakers at the forum included, Ambassador Bene Lofongo M’poko, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in South Africa, Jerrod Moodley of Rand Merchant Bank and Val Smith, Managing Director and Global Head, Corporate Sustainability, Citi.