Climate Crisis

Building back better is building back greener in Africa

Addressing the sustainability agenda need not be the enemy of growth and development. Our work in Zambia and Ghana is exploring the best ways of achieving both.

In common with other countries, Ghana and Zambia have been affected significantly by the pandemic. Infections and deaths are low when compared to rates in many developed economies. However, the economic impacts have been severe. According to the IMF, Zambia experienced a 3.0% reduction in GDP in 2020 (GDP grew by 1.4% in 2019), and the growth rate in Ghana fell to 0.4% (down from 6.5% in 2019). These reductions are partly due to lower global demand for the commodities they produce and export, such as oil and copper.  

Of course, it is not just the headline level of growth that matters. The kind of growth that is achieved is just as important, and the extent to which it helps to improve sustainability and equity.  

Against this background, this project explores integrating climate change mitigation into national economic recovery plans. It is a collaborative research programme which brings together teams from The Bartlett, the University of Ghana and the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research. We are working to understand the effects of Covid-19 - and to develop plans for the right kind of recovery.  

As part of the COP system Zambia and Ghana governments are revising their carbon reduction commitments and are thus addressing low carbon energy, land management and forestry. But their most ambitious plans are conditional. They require significant international assistance to be realised. Our research will explore how both countries could go even further, and what policy options and investments could deliver them.  

To achieve this, we are using a participatory scenario methodology to explore what the recovery might look like and to make recommendations to policymakers. This starts with a series of stakeholder interviews to understand the current situation, the impacts of Covid-19, and what their priorities are for the future. These interviews will provide a basis for discussions about what a clean, resilient recovery could look like. The project, funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund, will map out future pathways, complemented by the use of open-source models to explore how energy systems and land use could develop and change. 

Research team

Dr Simon Bawakyillenuo
Senior Research Fellow and Head of Statistics and Survey Division, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana

Dr Aba Crentsil 
Research Fellow, ISSER, University of Ghana

Ms Jen Cronin
Researcher, UCL Energy Institute

Dr Nick Hughes 
Senior Research Fellow, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Prof Yacob Mulugetta 
Professor of Energy and Development Policy, UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering & Public Policy (STEaPP)

Ms Mulima Nyambe-Mubanga 
Research Fellow at Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research

Dr Steve Pye 
Associate Professor in Energy Systems, UCL Energy Institute

Dr Bernard Tembo 
Energy Economist and Engineer

Dr Meron Tesfamichael
Research Fellow, UCL STEaPP

Dr Julia Tomei
Lecturer in Energy, Resources and Development, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Prof Jim Watson
Professor of Energy Policy and Research Director, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Dr Julia Tomei

Associate Professor, Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

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