Ethiopia's Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy

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General Information

Ethiopia is experiencing the effects of climate change. Besides the direct effects such as an increase in average temperature or a change in rainfall patterns, climate change also presents the necessity and opportunity to change to a new, sustainable development model. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia through the Environmental Protection Authority initiated a Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy (CRGE) initiative to protect the country from the adverse effects of climate change and to build a green economy. The Strategy was officially launched at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa.

Despite the challenges of being one of the world’s poorest countries, Ethiopia has good prospects for growth. The International Monetary Fund forecasts for Ethiopia a real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of more than 8% p.a. over the next five years where as the government of Ethiopia is even more optimistic and it projects a growth rate of 11%.

The strategy aims in building a Climate Resilient Green Economy by the year 2025. In doing these, the strategy has indentified six sectors for green economy (under mitigation) and adaptation. Agriculture is one of the sectors indentified both under mitigation and adaptation efforts.

During the process of designing the CRGE Strategy, the government of Ethiopia used three different bodies. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) as a governing and decision making body while the Technical Committee of CRGE (TC) to give technical guidance and support and Sub-technical Committee (STC) composed of experts from different ministers/sectors that are currently working on the ground, feeding information and technical expertise for the above mentioned bodies to help implement CRGE in both national and regional level.


If Ethiopia were to pursue the conventional economic development path to achieve its ambitious targets, the resulting negative environmental impacts would follow the patterns observed all around the globe. Under current practices, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would more than double from 150 Mt CO2e in 2010 to 400 Mt CO2e in 2030. Its development path could also face resource constraints: for example, it could reach the carrying capacity for cattle. Furthermore, it could lock its economy into outdated technologies. A conventional development path could also be financially challenging. For example, a significant share of GDP might need to be spent on fuel imports, putting pressure on foreign currency reserves.

The Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) initiative follows a sectoral approach and has so far identified and prioritized more than 60 initiatives, which could help the country achieve its development goals while limiting GHG emissions to around today’s 150 Mt CO2e – around 250 Mt CO2e less than estimated under a conventional development path. The green economy plan is based on four pillars:

  • Improving crop and livestock production practices for higher food security and farmer income while reducing emissions
  • Protecting and re-establishing forests for their economic and ecosystem services, including as carbon stocks
  • Expanding electricity generation from renewable sources of energy for domestic and regional markets
  • Leapfrogging to modern and energy-efficient technologies in transport, industrial sectors, and buildings.

Agriculture--Under Green Economy Strategy

Ethiopia is among the most vulnerable countries in the world. The recurrent deep-rooted droughts have caused serious food insecurity problems in the country. Agriculture which is the mainstay of Ethiopia’s economy (employing more than 84% of the population and contributes approximately 50% of GDP of the country and also the major revenue-deriving sector accounting for more than 90% of the country’s exports) and this source of food is susceptible to the frequent climate extremes.

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change regional review on the impacts of climate change identified the three most vulnerable sectors – as food security, energy resources and health in Ethiopia. Food security is said to suffer due to the rain-fed agriculture which is affected by the amount and temporal distribution of rainfall. Greater total or more intense rainfall across Ethiopia will increase soil erosion and the incidences of crop damage.
Livestock yields are being and will be impacted directly through temperature effects on annual growth, milk and wool production and reproduction; and indirectly by changes in the quantity and quality of pasture, forage, grass and disease and increases in parasites. Pastoralist communities may be particularly negatively impacted by climate change.

On the other hand, GHG emissions are attributable to livestock and crops in that order. The current cattle population is more than 50 million and other livestock nearly 100 million. Livestock generate greenhouse gases mainly in the form of methane emissions arising from digestion processes and nitrous oxide emissions arising from excretions. Livestock emissions are estimated to amount to 65 Mt CO2e in 2010 –more than 40% of total emissions today. The cultivation of crops contributes to the concentration of greenhouse gases mainly by requiring the use of fertiliser (~10 Mt CO2e) as well as by emitting N2O from crop residues reintroduced into the ground (~3 Mt CO2e).

Well into the foreseeable future, agriculture will remain the core sector of the economy and provide employment for the vast majority of. Sustained high growth rates of the agricultural sector – the GTP projects more than 8% over the next five years – are needed not only to increase household income of most families, but also to provide food security for a growing population and support the growth of direct exports of agricultural products and/or the establishment of more light manufacturing, which often requires agricultural input.

The traditional economic development path could deliver the required growth, but at the cost of significant agriculture land expansion (inducing pursuing and accelerating deforestation), soil erosion, and higher emissions as well as at the risk of reaching the limits to further development, e.g., by exceeding the carrying capacity for cattle of Ethiopia.

Building a green economy will require an increase the productivity of farmland and livestock rather than increasing the land area cultivated or cattle headcount. In order to offer a viable alternative to the conventional development path without foregoing growth in the short term and significant advantages thereafter, a set of initiatives has been identified that can provide the required increase in agricultural productivity and resource efficiency.
The CRGE initiative has prioritised the following initiatives to limit the soil-based emissions from agriculture and limit the pressure on forests from the expansion of land under cultivation:

  • Intensify agriculture through usage of improved inputs and better residue management resulting in a decreased requirement for additional agricultural land that would primarily be taken from forests,
  • Create new agricultural land in degraded areas through small-, medium-, and large-scale irrigation to reduce the pressure on forests if expansion of the cultivated area becomes necessary,
  • Introduce lower-emission agricultural techniques, ranging from the use of carbon and nitrogen-efficient crop cultivars to the promotion of organic fertilizers. These measures would reduce emissions from already cultivated areas.

Also, to increase the productivity and resource efficiency of the Livestock sector, the following initiatives have been prioritised:

  • Increase animal value chain efficiency to improve productivity, i.e., output per head of cattle via higher production per animal and an increased off-take rate, led by better health and marketing,
  • Support consumption of lower-emitting sources of protein, e.g., poultry. An increase of the share of meat consumption from poultry to up to 30% appears realistic and will help to reduce emissions from domestic animals,
  • Mechanise draft power, i.e., introduce mechanical equipment for ploughing/tillage that could substitute around 50% of animal draft power, which – despite burning fuels – results in a net reduction of GHG emissions.
  • Manage rangeland to increase its carbon content and improve the productivity of the land.
    These initiatives offer the combined benefit of supporting economic growth, increasing farmers’/ pastoralists’ income and limiting GHG emissions.

Agriculture--Under Climate Resilient Strategy

Short-term Climate Variability (now and the next 5 – 10 years) – focused on current and emerging trends - capacity, “no and low regrets” actions to address.

  • Setting baseline for mapping agro-climate zones
  • 14 agro- ecological zones are used for adaptation planning zones
  • Regional adaptation plans

Building climate resilience into existing growth and sector development plans in medium term

  • Sectoral strategies over next 5 to 15 years that expand capacity to cope with trends in climatic risks
  • Medium term investment
  • Information and knowledge base
  • Coordination and institutional capacity
  • Vulnerability analysis – climate hazardous vs. vulnerable groups

Medium to Long-term climate resilience (2025 and beyond) – identifying the major long-term climate change threats and identifying areas for early action.

  • Review of existing climate change scenarios for Ethiopia
  • Illustrative climate and socio-economic scenarios for the 2050s
  • Interpretation of existing climate change impacts studies for agriculture
  • Food chain analysis of climate impacts and resilience
  • Macro-economic analysis of climate change risks to the Green Economy strategies
  • Synthesis of climate-resilient development pathways

Complementing bottom-up with macro-economics of climate resilience and green growth – focused on the key links between growth policy;

  • High quality infrastructure,
  • Macro-economic stability,
  • Sound institutional frameworks,
  • Sustainable management of natural resources,
  • Openness to trade,
  • Access to credit bank risk capital,
  • Competitive markets and
  • High resource efficiency/productivity

Funding CRGE Strategy

One of the important initiatives under the CRGE Strategy is CRGE Facility. The Facility will be a national institution, working with all stakeholders to support Ethiopia’s climate change response. It will be closely linked to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED). The core purpose of the CRGE Facility will be to channel finance to the activities prioritised in the CRGE Strategy and later, the CRGE Plan. CRGE Facility was officially launched on September 2012.

The CRGE Facility will be responsible for attracting, allocating and channeling international climate finance. The Facility will look to leverage both public and private finance, from both multilateral and bilateral sources. Ideally, climate finance will complement other forms of investment to bolster Ethiopia’s core climate-compatible development activities (in areas such as food security, energy, infrastructure development and natural resources management). The government is also looking at possibility of having a results-based / performance-based mechanism for allocating finance.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

During the designing process of this Strategy different types of capacity building programmes were carried out. The government of Ethiopia partnered with different institutions conducted training for the technical experts working on CRGE, among the trainings GHG inventories, baseline assessment, methodology for adaptation and mitigation.

Furthermore, the strategy results in a better coordination between different offices working on climate change office. All Ministers have a coordinate for climate change, the different office now have a CRGE coordinate unit that report back to the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia (EPA) the mandated institution for following all climate change related activities in the country.