Angola has unique wealth of biodiversity and scientists agree that the country’s biodiversity is one of the most important on the African continent, accounting for 1,260 endemic plants of the estimated 5,000 plant species in Africa and making it the second richest country in Africa in endemic plants. The diversity of mammals is also one of the richest on the continent. Forests occupy about 35% of the country’s territory while the coastline of over 1,600 km is rich in various fish species. The country is also rich in oil and mineral resources including diamonds. The recent trend of environmental degradation poses a threat to fish resources, over-exploitation of plant species, soil erosion, and pollution of soils, water and the atmosphere as well as climate change vulnerability raises concerns about the inherent risks to environmental sustainability.
(Loans & Grants, 2012)
In researching green development for Angola, there was one company that continued to pop up as being a strong support and believer in African countries rising above poverty while aiming for enviornmental sustainability. That company? None other than the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group. It’s mission is simple – “help reduce poverty, improve living conditions for Africans and mobilize resources for the continents economic and social development” (About Us, 2012).
Angola, being “more than three times the size of California, extends more than 1000 mi (1609 km) along the South Atlantic in southwest Africa” (Info Please, 2012) currently “faces a variety of environmental problems resulting from a legacy of extended civil war, which gave rise to widespread poverty, unsustainable use of natural resources and the unregulated exploitation of oil, diamonds and other mineral resources. The institutional capacity in the environment sector is very low. This has resulted in lack of comprehensive environmental legislation and the absence of robust enforcement of existing laws. Reliable environmental information, necessary for decision makers to make informed decisions are hard to come by” (Angola, 2012). It’s not just the super cities of the westernized world that are affecting the environment. Environmental issues can (and do) start right down at the grassroots level. If we’re not careful there may come a day when there are no more grass roots left (literally) for the next generations to enjoy.
Fortunately, this story doesn’t end there. AfDB Group stepped up in March 2009 to offer their support to Angola, providing it with a loan “equivalent to US$ 17.6 million” (Loans & Grants, 2012). Dubbed the Environmental Sector Support Project (ESSP), the loan is provided with a purpose. The project goal has been ongoing, the objectives to “address poverty reduction through improvement of environment through which all life subsists by a) production of a comprehensive environmental legislation and harmonization of all existing environmental legislation by removing overlap and contradiction, and by filling the gaps by enacting new necessary legislation … [and] b) development of the necessary institutional structures with the capacity to generate, process and disseminate quality quantitative and qualitative information accessible to decision makers” (Loans & Grants, 2012).
For those that the legal talk goes a bit over their head (myself included), I’ll break it down a bit further. Quite simply, with the help that the AfDB Group is giving Angola’s government, one can expect that overtime the ESSP will help to improve environmental governance, ensure food security for the entire population and have an effect on overall poverty reduction. Essentially, AfDB Group is single-handedly helping to make this world a better place. I wonder if the rest of us can say the same.
Oh – and just a little side note. AfDB Group is not alone. As of July 20, 2011, WWF has come together with AfDB Group to “work closely on green economy and development issues in Africa” (WWF Global, 2011). Focusing on Africa’s most urgent sustainability issues, I reckon Angola won’t be the only one with new environmental plans aimed to tackle both poverty, growth and environmental sustainability.
WWF Global, AfDB and WWF team up for the environment in Africa (2011). Retrieved online from http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=201078 on January 30, 2012
Info Please, Angola (2012). Retrieved online from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107280.html on January 30, 2012
African Development Bank Group, Angola (2012). Retrieved online from http://www.afdb.org/en/countries/southern-africa/angola/ on January 30, 2012
African Development Bank Group, Loans & Grants (2012). Retrieved online from http://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/loans-grants/environment/ on January 30, 2012
African Development Bank Group, About Us (2012). Retrieved online from http://www.afdb.org/en/about-us/ on January 30, 2012