UNEP hosts green group on journey across Africa

They've clocked up 5,000 kilometres on the road, passed mountains, rivers, deserts and forests and also repaired their fair share of flat tyres.

And today, the Greek conservation group, Green Project, made a pit-stop at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi during an environmental road-trip that will cover the length of Africa.

The team of nine scientists and artists from the Green Project organisation is travelling in a three-vehicle convoy across the continent, visiting biodiversity and renewable energy projects from Alexandria to the Zambezi river.

The theme of the journey is 'from waterways to energy routes' and the team members will travel alongside the Nile and Okavango rivers, as well as Africa's major lakes, including Victoria, Malawi and Tanganyika.

The purpose of the 47-day trip is to record traditional and modern applications of renewable energy resources across the continent.

"The aim is to be a bridge of communication between Africa and Europe", said project leader Dr. Ioannis Tzortzis during the reception in UNEP headquarters. "We want to show the benefits of solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy to the communities we meet and demonstrate how these can provide a solution to poverty. But we also want to highlight success stories here in Africa and promote the sustainable use of Africa's resources."

Biodiversity is another key theme of Green Project's trip and the itinerary includes visits to rich wildlife habitats such as Kenya's Mau Forest and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The links between biodiversity and renewable energy is an important theme of the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity.

"We believe that the solution to biodiversity problems can come from renewable energy," said Dr. Tzortzis. "On this trip we have seen a lot of natural habitat that has been degraded for use in fuels. But we have also heard about animals returning to areas that have adopted renewable resources and reduced damage to their environment."

The group will spend a total of five days in Kenya. After leaving Nairobi, the team will visit several geothermal and hydroelectric stations, a dam project in the country's Eastern Province and a micro-hydro energy programme near Mount Kenya.
In order to offset their emissions, Green Project will invest in clean development projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The visit to the UN complex was organised by Green Project and UNEP's Climate Neutral Network (CN Net). Established in 2008, CN Net aims to facilitate information exchange on achieving a transition to a low-emissions and, eventually, climate neutral society.
The network is forming partnerships with governments, businesses and voluntary organisations and many CN Net members are already reducing their carbon emissions through renewable energy technologies and applications.

"UNEP's Climate Neutral Network tries to showcase global best examples of greenhouse gas reduction and Green Project is also trying to do similar work," said Satinder Bindra, Director of UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information. "They are mapping out places across Africa that demonstrate the best use of renewable energy so that others can learn from such positive examples and also scale up their own individual efforts to build a greener and more sustainable planet," he added.

Using their in-house team of artists and filmmakers, Green Project are making a documentary on their trip and putting together a collection of photographs that will be eventually be exhibited in Europe.

In the meantime, the group has 6,000 kilometres of open road before their final destination in Cape Town, South Africa, and thousands of hectares of diverse terrain that contain many inspiring ways of using renewable energy.


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