On 28 October 2016, in conjunction with its annual board meeting, the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) organised an SDG Dialogue on “A Sustainable Future for Africa”. Approximately 100 participants, including researchers and African diplomats, discussed the challenges and opportunities facing Africa as it pursues a more sustainable future, including how to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The event began with keynote speeches from two UNU-IAS board members, Tanya Abrahamse (South African National Biodiversity Institute) and Maria Ivanova (University of Massachusetts Boston). In discussing sustainability in Africa, Dr Abrahamse highlighted that for the region to implement the 2030 Agenda, there is need for a sweeping paradigm shift. She argued that such change should include adopting a sustainable management approach towards natural capital, and increasing intergovernmental cooperation to improve and coordinate policy responses. She also emphasised the importance of international partners supporting African states to prioritise their own development agendas in line with global initiatives, rather than dictating policy for them to adopt and implement.
In discussing Africa’s progress on the global goals, Prof. Ivanova observed that Africa’s implementation of international environmental agreements was close to the global average, referring to the Ramsar Convention and the Basel Convention on Movement of Hazardous Waste. This has been confirmed through her work with colleagues at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, to create an Environmental Conventions Index.
Building on the speeches, the three following presentations focused on enhancing resilience against climate and ecosystem changes in sub-Saharan Africa (Osamu Saito), youth entrepreneurship for sustainable industrialisation (Emmanuel Mutiysa), and the role of Africa’s private sector in natural resources management (Linda Chinangwa). A panel discussion with questions from the audience emphasised the need for greater support for a self-reliant and forward-looking Africa.
For more information, see the news story on the UNU-IAS website.