Executive Summary

Ethiopia is a geographically diverse developing nation in the Horn of Africa. More than 83 million people live in the country, and population is growing with an annual growth rate of 2.1%.  About 79% of Ethiopians are employed in the agricultural sector, and the overwhelming majority of people still live in rural areas. As one of the poorest nations in the world, Ethiopia has taken steps to create economic development to improve the livelihoods of low-income households and subsistence farmers. However as a result of an overwhelming focus on economic development, the health of the environment has often been overlooked. Although economic development has benefited society, in the future, it is important to promote environmental sustainability and sustainable development. The seven chapters that comprise this report suggest ways to integrate sustainability in various sectors of Ethiopia.

The first chapter aims to determine the place of the environment in international philanthropy through a case study for four Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation projects active in East Africa: East Africa Dairy Development, Farm Radio International, Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa, and Vital Signs. Findings indicate that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is able to simultaneously address the environment and achieve humanitarian goals by being in the unique position of having an influence at all levels of the project process. Opportunity exists for the Foundation to make data relating to environmental impacts more transparent. Furthermore, better market and extension systems would promote the long-run economic sustainability of projects.

The second chapter examines the social, environmental, and economic implications of the Ethiopian floriculture sector, and how different levels of regulation can mitigate the negative implications of the industry to create overall environmental sustainability. This chapter looks at three levels of regulation: state-based regulation, international regulation by investors and buyers, and industry-based self-regulation.  The floriculture sector continues to grow physically and monetarily, however as it grows on such a large scale, there are concerns about the environmental impacts such as water pollution from fertilizer and pesticide use. Using a literature review, interviews, as well as Graphic Informational Systems (GIS) analysis, this chapter creates policy recommendations for the Ethiopian Government, and relevant stakeholders that promote environmental sustainability while also preserving the economic development the industry brings to Ethiopia.

The third chapter examines the critical resource requirements and impacts of major crop systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the mitigation and adaptation strategies that are available to address them. Based upon an in-depth literature review of peer-reviewed articles, papers, and reports from major agricultural research organizations and scientists, this chapter presents an overview of crop-environment interactions for maize, legumes, and sweet potatoes/yams. These crops face environmental losses at an upper range of 50% to 100% across the three stages of production. However, the judicious use of agrochemicals, increased use of genetically improved crop varieties, and proper storage methods can substantially improve yields and reduce losses across all three crops. The findings of this chapter could be used to help direct investments in agricultural productivity to the appropriate places.

The research question of the fifth chapter is can the small, for-profit business model be applied to environmental services to yield positive outcomes, both financially and environmentally? Through a case study of Selam Awassa Business Group (SABG), a small business that manufactures agriculture equipment, construction equipment, and renewable energy technologies for rural farmers, research analyzes their approach to business. While there could be more communication as far as measuring the business’ environmental impacts, they are a positive example of a small, for-profit business involved in environmental issues in Ethiopia. SABG is successful because the business uses a triple bottom line approach, incorporating social, environmental, and economical objectives. Through producing tools to take the burden off of the environment, taking into account the needs of the communities, and their following their goal of making a profit as well as stimulating the local economy, SABG is a successful small, for-profit business.

The sixth chapter aims to analyze the current municipal waste management practices in urban centers of Ethiopia and opportunities for social, environmental and economic improvement throughout the waste management process. Opportunities for improved waste management include formalized separation, collection, transportation, recycling, composting, and the establishment of landfill gas utilization technology. Together these improvements could reduce social and environmental impacts of pollution and climate change.

The final chapter examines the role of international development banks in supporting environmentally and socially conscious infrastructure development in Ethiopia. Two large hydropower dams are currently under construction in Ethiopia, the Gibe III Dam and the Grand Renaissance Dam, will be the tallest and largest dams in Africa. Atypical of large projects, neither dam has received funding from international development banks. Hydropower can succeed in bringing development goals if it takes anticipates and mitigates potential negative impacts. Using a literature review and correspondence with experts, this chapter conducts a case study of the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Dams as exceptional cases. The findings of this chapter aim to inform funding debates over similar large infrastructure projects going forward.