Sustainable Special Economic Zones

Circular Economy

A special economic zone (SEZ) is a geographic region whose economic laws differ from those typical within the rest of the zone’s country. These discrepancies, which most often manifest in rules and laws related to lower tariffs, duties and the like, are put in place to level the economic playing field and increase foreign investments. However, while SEZs deliver economic growth and create jobs, their environmental footprint is typically disregarded, and labor conditions and community impact are often criticized. The Made in Africa Initiative and LADOL, with the support of SYSTEMIQ, is evolving the concept of SEZs by moving beyond “do no harm” environmental stewardship to proactively developing zones to drive attainment of the SDGs through promoting businesses and processes that create positive social and or environmental outcomes. Through the institution of sustainable special economic zones, this partnership will focus on promoting human rights, social benefits and curbing the environmental impact of industrial production, while aiming to extend economic growth and job creation beyond the enclave of the zone. Building upon previous success in Nigeria, this partnership will scale in Ethiopia and Kenya, with special focus on sustainable energy and the reuse of water and waste. 

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