ENTEBBE, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Monday urged African countries to adopt a green procurement system whereby they purchase products and services that cause minimal environmental impacts.
Ernest Kamala, a program officer at the UNEP Africa office, told participants at a workshop held here, 40 km south of the capital Kampala, that governments need to adopt green procurement practices in order to preserve the environment so as to achieve sustainable development.
She said procurement of goods and services takes up a large portion of the public expenditure in many countries.
"Natural resources are the basic inputs for the goods, services and infrastructure we all use. The way societies use, manage and protect natural resources fundamentally shapes the well-being of humanity, the environment and the economy," Kamala said.
She said the UN is supporting countries to develop their capacity for green procurement, noting that in 2015, 11.5 million U.S. dollars was awarded as grants for 34 projects across six countries. These include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda.
She said through the project over 10,000 jobs have been created, mostly for women and youth.
Kamala said in Uganda, the environment agency is discussing with government on how public-sector spending and procurement can be done in a cost effective manner and minimize negative impact on the environment while promoting socioeconomic benefits.
Lawrence Semakula, Accountant General of the Ugandan government, said between 50-60 percent of the national budget is channeled through public sector procurement.
"This clearly indicates the potential that exist to leverage public spending in order to promote social, environmental economic policies," he said.
Semakula said the Ugandan government is in the process of amending the necessary policies and laws to incorporate the green procurement system.