By Busiswa Wetive Dlamini, Hlumisa Eswatini Youth Climate Network
This article is part of a series focusing on the upcoming COP26 global climate summit in the UK
I have news for you, green entrepreneurship is not just about waste management. I know right, I used to have the same mentality as well. Allow me then to blow your mind with information you already knew, green entrepreneurship goes from green gardening, to organic nutritionist, to thrift shops, to solar panel manufacturers, to environmental blogs, to repairing bicycles, to composting, to green architecture, to green financial planning, proposal writing, it’s a lot; I promise. Therefore, you’ve got to understand that green entrepreneurship is the innovation of products or services centred and motivated by the global environmental crisis which includes climate change, scarcity of natural resources, global warming to name but a few while generating sustainable income and livelihoods.
You might already be wondering so what then, why green entrepreneurship, isn’t it just a trend, what’s its relevance. What’s worth noting about it is the fact that it addresses the three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social impact); meaning that this is a holistic approach that improves the economy while creating jobs and saving the planet. I believe this is definitely the way to go for Eswatini after being greatly economically affected by the COVID19 pandemic. A green economy is what the country ought to prioritize not just to resuscitate her economy but to build a sustainable economy instead.
A green economy is one that aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. Thereafter green entrepreneurship is one of the key contributors or players in driving the green economy, for it doesn’t only contribute to its growth but also brings about job opportunities which therefore improves the livelihoods of people. As known Eswatini is dealing with a very high unemployment crisis of 24% of her population with 46% of those being the youth, shouldn’t she then prioritise what would give her a holistic approach to her needs? Well, I would.
It is no surprise that green entrepreneurship addresses most if not all of the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), however the most directly addressed SDGs include; SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action) which therefore aligns as a solution to the urgent crisis that the parties will be meeting to negotiate in Glasgow for COP 26.
As the world aims to get “greener”, Eswatini cannot afford to be left behind because we are already being hit by effects of climate change. Therefore, it would serve her a great deal to invest in youth green enterprises, innovations and start-ups ensuring that there are tools to assist the development of these Emaswati and bring their ideas to fruition. I for one believe financial assistance is not enough but ensuring the readiness of those individuals leading the enterprises will result in more successful inventions. This can be done through business incubation that offers research, business training aimed at equipping the youth with skills, intense investment in education by bettering the existing education systems and creating new educational systems that will favor skills development more than job seekers. Most importantly creating an enabling environment, which will promote networking, bigger market, trading and a great value chain through expos, competitions, trade fairs, events and most importantly policies that promote green entrepreneurship and relevant, long-lasting youth development.
We hope that Eswatini will table this ambition on the negotiations as one of the ways to also resuscitate its economy while solving the real (climate) crisis.