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The second is loss of biodiversity because this impacts food security and natural ecosystems. The third is energy, as many African economies are growing fast and require sufficient energy. Lastly, looking at the demographic trends, there is a lot of growth in urban areas with populations moving to cities. This brings challenges, including that of waste management. There are exciting opportunities.

After the Paris Agreement, there was a global commitment and political will to address climate change.

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We are currently working with African countries to help them develop national plans in mitigation and adaptation. On nature, next year there will be a big global meeting in China on the Convention on Biological Diversity, offering African member states the opportunity to shape the global biodiversity agenda by sharing strategies that are working well and can be replicated elsewhere. UNEP has been pushing for a green economy by promoting low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive policies. How can African countries tap into this?

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Push for cleaner sources of energy. We are already seeing several developments in this. If you follow what is happening in South Africa, trying to move its heavy manufacturing industrial sector from being dependent on coal to cleaner energy…it is a slow process. Transition from bad sources of energy to renewables takes time. Then we have banning deforestation and making green economy plans.

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Countries like Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa are moving in this direction. It needs ministers of environment to work very closely with ministers of finance to develop these plans. UNEP is using its convening role to help member states do this. Governments, citizens, the private sector and civil society all have a role to play when it comes to plastics. There are four ways that African governments and citizens can help with the menace.

First is leadership and political will to actually put in place regulations to ban single-use plastics and promote reuse of smart plastics.


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Consumer choices can influence the environmental footprint of plastics. It recently sailed from Lamu to Zanzibar to raise awareness. Lastly, partnerships with the private sector. If you look at good examples of where single-use plastics have been banned, there have been engagements between governments and the private sector to encourage them to find alternative and more sustainable ways to replace plastics bags.

And finally, we need to see how we can address the plastic menace by introducing more circularity into economies. This is where capacity-building support for governments will be critical. In particular, how is UNEP coordinating with pan-African organisations such as the African Union to address the effects of climate change? We also host global platforms — from the UN Environment Assembly to international financial networks to multilateral environmental agreements — that catalyze action. And we advocate, working with citizens across the world, to inspire change.

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However, we cannot do it alone because the scale of the challenge is huge but there are enormous opportunities to make a difference and so partnerships are critical. For political advocacy we are engaging with the African Union through our office in Addis Ababa. We provide policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building. I was in Cape Town, South Africa, earlier this year, with other regional bodies, to learn how countries develop green economic plans. We are engaging them at various levels as part of the intergovernmental process.

Women and youth are a core part of implementing our programs. At the UNEA 4, we heard from many youth activists on why they are becoming impatient and demanded for action from us.

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Africa has a significant role to play when it comes to the environment. All these global challenges have an impact on the continent, hence the need to hear African voices at all levels in global forums.

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Also, incorporating and mainstreaming environment in all the activities at the country level is key as is translating these into actions. Partnerships are crucial: Africa is diverse, but we can build on that diversity to bring collective action. Our challenges cannot be solved individually.

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It takes a village to raise a child in Africa; it is going to take a village to solve our environmental problems. The effects of climate change are being felt in Africa; countries, organisations and individuals, including young people, are taking actions to tackle these effects.

In this edition, we highlight some outstanding climate action initiatives by young Africans. Skip to main content. Get the free mobile apps Get the latest news from us on our apps. Welcome to the United Nations. Toggle navigation Language:.


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Africa Renewal. Get our app. MSA cases can both reveal and cause legal and reputational risks. While the highest-profile cases have involved American technology companies operating in the European Union, there have been cases across a range of industries. Merely including a general statement in the financial report that the company intends to comply with all tax laws and regulations in its countries of operation does not suffice as a sustainable tax strategy. As part of our tax strategy criterion in the CSA, we ask companies questions about the following three issues: 7.

As tax avoidance strategies are drawn up in a legally sound way, merely including a general statement in the financial report that the company intends to comply with all tax laws and regulations in its countries of operation does not suffice as a sustainable tax strategy.

Since , our tax strategy question has sought to determine if a company has a tax policy that articulates its approach to one or more of the following sensitive or high-risk tax issues:. However, as tax has become a more mainstream ESG topic, and transparent reporting on taxation has become best practice, we now assess tax strategies solely on the basis of publicly available information. As we can see from the chart below, there has been a five-fold increase in the proportion of companies with acceptable tax policies available in the public domain since Since , there has been a five-fold increase in the proportion of companies with acceptable tax policies available in the public domain.

While estimates suggest this figure has now fallen by around USD billion 8 , the immense sum of money still held offshore is problematic on multiple levels; most egregious is the fact that this is capital which could arguably be put to more productive uses, such as meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. In recent years, global policymakers have supported guidelines to encourage multinational corporations to break down their financial information on a country-by-country basis instead of reporting aggregate figures at the regional or global level. Country-by-country reporting boosts accountability while exposing firms pursuing overly aggressive tax optimization strategies.

The results from the CSA below show that over the last five years, an increasing share of companies report taxes paid on a country-by-country basis, thus scoring higher on the Tax Reporting question within the CSA. Corporate Tax Strategy is a useful indicator to identify companies well-positioned to deal with future policy and regulatory changes which could drive corporate tax rates higher. Firms with a tax rate below the communicated industry group average were scored based on their deviation below that average. While in some cases discrepancies are legitimate, large deviations from the rates paid in the industry at large can indicate overly aggressive tax optimization.

To avoid penalizing companies with reasonable explanations e. The chart below shows that, taken on average, companies performed well on this new question, in line with our intention to only identify companies which significantly deviated from established industry averages. It was also important that this question was able to detect companies with publicly confirmed tax irregularities.

On average, companies that have been the subject of tax-related Media and Stakeholder Analysis MSA cases in the past five years scored almost two points lower on the new Effective Tax Rate question than companies with a completely clean tax MSA record. The chart below shows that in the CSA, European companies led the way with respect to transparent and responsible tax strategies.

It is also clear that North American firms perform worst across all three questions. These transparency and disclosure improvements over the past five years as measured by our Tax Strategy and Tax Reporting questions are encouraging, and likely a combination of proactive recognition of policy risks and the realization that nearly all stakeholders are interested in and critical of how corporations approach tax. While one of many causes, the rise of populism has been at least partially fueled by perceptions of inequality in general and an unfairly shared tax burden in particular, 11 further increasing the likelihood of strong policy action on tax both at national and international levels.

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