Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Professor Damilola Olawuyi, has called on all African countries, including Nigeria, to accelerate and maximize the full potential of the green economy as a tool for promoting sustainable prosperity and green economic opportunities.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is also the global vice chair of the International Law Association, made these remarks in his High-level Opening Plenary address to the 2nd African Business and Human Rights Forum convened by the African Union in partnership with the United Nations, at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Themed “For Africa, From Africa”, the continental Forum brings together African government leaders, development experts, business enterprises, civil society and academia to explore how to promote and ensure responsible business conduct in all key economic sectors in Africa.

While exploring progress made in addressing adverse human rights impact of business activities and investments in key economic sectors, Olawuyi called on African countries ‘not to stop at better when best is possible.” He emphasized that with less than seven years left to the 2030 target date for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, global attention has shifted toward developing legal and institutional frameworks for “greening” national economies and promoting a progressive shift toward green growth and nature-based economic development.

According to him: “The green economy approach emphasizes utilizing environmental protection, conservation, resource efficiency, and decarbonization as tools for promoting economic growth and development. For example, by promoting “green jobs” through green financing, green technology transfer, green tourism, green transportation, and green procurements, countries can promote low carbon energy transition and green growth, while also fostering local eco-entrepreneurship and innovation. The green economy model is the task and opportunity of the century for all forward-looking governments in Africa. In my travels, I see that several investors worldwide are seeking new hubs for green investment, but are we ready for such green opportunities?”

While commending governments of Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya for being the first few African countries to have adopted National Actions Plans on Business and Human Rights, he called for accelerated action to implement such action plans. Noting that a ‘ whole government approach’ is required to mainstream responsible investment into all economic sectors, Olawuyi challenged all stakeholders to align words with actions by mainstreaming human rights and environmental consideration into decision-making in all key sectors of the economy.

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