By Jutta Urpilainen

Over the past few months, the world as we know it has changed in ways we could not have imagined a year ago. However, even before the pandemic hit, the path to a sustainable future was under threat.

We were already facing problems related to the climate emergency, biodiversity loss and pollution. Something had to be done to reconcile planet and economy, and the European Union took a critical step forward with the launch of the European Green Deal.

From the way we produce to the way we consume, the Green Deal is an ambitious growth strategy, which aims to take on the massive climate and environmental challenges facing us. Our success will hinge on working hand in hand with partner countries around the world through international partnerships, including trade agreements and green initiatives. For this, we need allies and partnerships.

A crucial partnership is with our closest neighbour, twin continent and natural partner: Africa. The EU and Africa need to opt for a low-carbon, resource efficient and climate-resilient future to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. We can achieve that by having a solid international partnership with ambitious objectives. This means proposing integrated responses that tackle climate change and environmental degradation, and consider the economic and social dimensions.

Our focus should be on making rapid progress on areas with great potential for both our continents: sustainable energy and food systems, protecting biodiversity through restoring ecosystems, fighting wildlife trafficking, and sustainable forest, land and protected area management. For example, with our project “Beyond livelihoods at the Lake Naivasaha” in Kenya, we show how the fight to save biodiversity and reverse the changing climate can help restore communities in a very difficult situation.

One thing for sure is that the green transition will need massive investments. Public funds alone will not be enough. This is why we are de-risking investment to pave the road for more private sector engagement in Africa and to support the green transition for all.

As the world battles a global health pandemic, and deals with its aftermath, a strategic green partnership between Africa and Europe will be critical in the years to come. The EU will work with Kenya and support its efforts towards a green transition that makes economies future-proof and benefit all. Working together for our mutual benefit, Africa and Europe can “build back better”, building a greener, more sustainable and inclusive world for all.

The writer of this opinion piece is the European Commissioner for International Partnerships.

Contacts: @EUinKenya  @eumordue  @JuttaUrpilainen