SWITCH to Green initiative to build sustainable societies

Written By: Beth Nyaga
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UN Environment and the European Union (EU) came together at UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya Thursday to share insights on SWITCH to Green, a major global initiative that supports governments in their transition to green economies. 

The primary aim of SWITCH to Green is to turn environmental challenges into opportunities.

It is based on the understanding that an inclusive green economy, which features sustainable consumption and production patterns, is at the core of sustainable development.

“Greening the economy is not just about the environment. It also offers multiple benefits like job creation, poverty reduction, economic diversification and income generation,” said Satya Tripathi, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Head of New York Office of UN Environment.  “SWITCH to Green is a strategic vehicle that’s driving this transition. UN Environment appreciates the partnership with the European Union and others in laying the foundation for a better and equitable future for everyone,” he added. 

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The SWITCH to Green initiative builds on a series of regional SWITCH programmes, including SWITCH Asia, SWITCH Africa Green, SWITCH Med and Eastern Partnership (EaP) Green / EU4 Environment, covering over 39 countries. 

Collectively, the programmes have contributed to the adoption of sustainable consumption and production practices by 100,000 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, sustaining 350,000 jobs, and leveraging investments of more than US$1.1 billion in total by project beneficiaries.   

Some of the ways in which SWITCH programmes help governments move towards sustainable consumption and production include providing access to green financing, policies and standards, and eco-entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2014, SWITCH Africa Green has been steering six African countries towards sustainable consumption and production patterns, while also generating economic growth. In the past four years, the programme has achieved widespread success.

More than 3,000 micro, small and medium enterprises have directly and indirectly benefited from training, pilot demonstrations and sustainable consumption and production skills development.

Sixty-four percent of the enterprises recorded an increase in income generation, with their annual cost savings amounting to an average of US$7 million. Production rates increased by 68 percent.

SWITCH-Asia attained wide acclaim through their Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyle Challenge, which aims to support young people with business ideas to foster low-waste and low-carbon lifestyles through start-ups.

The 12 winning projects each received US$10,000 and mentorship to help bring their ideas to fruition. 

One winner, Pamela Nicole from the Philippines, has been transforming textile waste destined for landfill into higher-value products, such as footwear and clothes.

From Sri Lanka, Sasiranga De Silva was awarded the prize for developing an affordable toolkit that allows tuk-tuk drivers to convert their vehicles into electric powertrains that generate zero tailpipe emissions.

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