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GSSC Seminar Series
13 June 2023


Complementarities and contestations: How the SDGs shape Tanzania's vision for a Green Economy

Emmanuel Sulle, Aga Khan University, Arusha Principal Campus, Tanzania



Around 2012 Green Economy (GE) concept gained traction as a solution to address the adverse impacts of climate change resulting from the capitalist economic system. The term green economy is sometimes mixed up with blue economy. Since both  “blue economy” and “green economy” concepts are incorporated in many sustainable development plans, common citizens need to understand what these terms mean. This is important because moving to a green economy requires changes in the way we make things, move, allocate resources, produce energy and consume goods and services. Based on analysis of ethnographic data: intensive interviews with the people who produce and compile these statistics, those who work in quality control and evaluation, and those who use them, the paper examines the implications of the world views, complementarities and contestations of the SDGs for the Green Economy concept as envisioned in Tanzania's green economy plans. The paper argues that despite all the hype around blue and green economy frameworks, in practice, given the predominant capitalist system in place, transition plans do not alter the economic terrain, because they are either business-as-usual or intensifying business-as-usual approaches and activities. However, some less conflict-generating activities, if driven by and implemented through citizen participation, are likely to result in much more sustainable and inclusive green economic growth.

Emmanuel Sulle is well-known as a leading scholar on agrarian studies in Africa, a contributor to the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa. He holds a PhD in Land and Agrarian Studies from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies and Master’s degree in Public Policy (Environmental Policy). He has over 16 years of work and research experience on a range of topics that include land tenure, women land rights and land-based investments, policy and stakeholder analysis, agricultural commercialization, sustainable intensification and tourism, gender analysis, green economy, climate change, inclusive business models and rural livelihoods.