Africa tasked to manage its natural resources

A recent webinar organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) emphasized the urgent need for Africa to reconsider its approach to managing natural resources to avoid adverse socio-economic consequences that could hinder sustainable development on the continent. This call to action coincides with the upcoming 2023 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP28), scheduled for November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where the world will assess progress on the Paris Agreement.

Participants in the AfDB-hosted webinar, with support from the International Resource Panel and the World Resource Forum Secretariat, discussed challenges and best practices related to the valuation and sustainable management of natural resources. The sustainable management of Africa’s natural resources is of paramount importance to mitigate environmental degradation and facilitate adaptation to climate change, underscoring the significance of this discussion as the world prepares for the climate conference.

Merlyn Van Voore, Head of the International Resource Panel Secretariat, emphasized the global need for appropriate tools and frameworks to ensure sustainable management of natural resources, drawing attention to the complex nature of resource management, climate goals, and sustainable development.

The manufacturing and disposal of electronics, such as mobile phones, were cited as examples that involve multiple stakeholders, from manufacturers to extractives workers, recycling companies, and end users. Dr. Vanessa Ushie, the Acting Director of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resource Management and Investment Center, highlighted the crisis of nature that both Africa and the world are currently facing. She emphasized the essential role of natural resources, including renewables and ecosystem services, in Africa’s economy, generating around 62% of the continent’s GDP. Dr. Ushie stressed the need to fully appreciate the ecological, biophysical, and environmental values of these services to avoid underestimating the value of natural capital.

With growing global reliance on Africa for resources and its potential role in the energy transition and information technology, sustainable resource management is increasingly vital for the well-being of people on the continent and around the world. Dr. Hans Bruyninckx, a former executive director of the European Environment Agency, echoed the call for elevating sustainable resource management in Africa and economies worldwide, recognizing the historical unsustainability of resource exports from the continent and emphasizing Africa’s expected role in the global transition toward cleaner energy and technological solutions, impacting both social development and well-being.

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