Honourable Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare; Acting Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Environment and Sustainable Development
Mr Simon Springett, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
Mrs Ng, Director of Environment, National Focal Point and Chairperson of the National Technical Coordination Committee
Members of the National Technical Coordination Committee
Ladies and gentlemen
I am happy to be present with you today to launch the National Networking Forum under the SWITCH Africa Green project. Today's event coincides with the celebrations of Europe Day. It confirms the longstanding partnership between the European Union and the Republic of Mauritius in promoting our shared goals on sustainable development.
Sustainable development, environmental and climate change issues are at the heart of our external relations. We have committed to reach 20% of climate-relevant investment in our development cooperation. To achieve this objective, the EU uses a range of tools that would integrate these issues in all our portfolio of actions. The Switch Africa Green programme is one such programme that the Republic of Mauritius is benefiting from.
This SWITCH Africa Green project is funded by the European Union and is implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It aims at supporting African countries to achieve sustainable development by promoting development of green businesses and eco-entrepreneurship, based on the adoption of Sustainable Consumption and Production practices.
In so doing we basically aim at generating growth, creating decent jobs and reducing poverty.
Green economy and sustainable development are at the heart of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015.
Our support to the SWITCH initiative demonstrates the European Union's determination to fully implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Through this programme, EU will contribute primarily to the implementation, on the African continent, of Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12), i.e., ensuring sustainable consumption and production pattern.
This programme will also allow us to contribute to the achievements of a number of other goals - Goal 1, i.e. ending poverty in all its forms; Goal 5 - in empowering women and girls; Goal 8, by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth and employment and Goal 10, by reducing inequality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Republic of Mauritius has the potential of becoming a model in sustainable development, particularly in the context of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).
The 10-Year Master Plan for the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, recently commissioned by the Government, is driven by an ambitious strategic vision to make SME the engine of growth to position Mauritius as a High-Income Economy. This calls for the emergence of innovative and globally competitive SMEs.
With the Switch Africa Green initiative, the European Union supports this development and offers a significant opportunity for Mauritius to develop its green economy through the SMEs for job creation, value addition and economic democratisation.
I am glad that the Government's new SME Framework recognises the potential of the Switch Africa Green country projects in the agricultural, manufacturing and tourism sectors on inclusive and entrepreneurial growth. These projects can serve as institutional instruments to mainstream Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the economic revival of Mauritius.
Through this programme we want to encourage SMEs to switch to green production methods as they can positively influence demand and transform supply to more sustainable production and consumption patterns.
I am pleased to note that the projects are being implemented by a wide range of actors, from research institutions, government bodies, local authorities, to non-governmental organisations and private sector organisations - all present here today. I am sure that the present networking forum will provide an important avenue for sharing experiences and best practices in a wide range of sectors – sustainable agriculture, organic farming, waste management, eco-entrepreneurship, greening the tourism industry and energy audit – to name a few. I therefore encourage you all to take advantage of this forum.
The concept of ‘Green Economy’ has emerged in recent years as a strategic priority for governments. In Europe, it features prominently in EU programmes and strategies. This is essential if we want a better quality of living, better jobs, and a better environment for us to live in.
As you are aware the Switch Africa Green project was launched on a pilot initiative. In view of the success accrued over time and the interest shown to the programme, the European Union has decided to allocate additional funds for a second phase.
In this context, a Call for Proposals was launched in February 2017 which was opened to the seven beneficiary countries of the programme. Evaluation process is still on-going and we do hope to see more innovative projects from Mauritius and Rodrigues being retained under the second phase.
I wish you all success and I thank you for your kind attention.