The 2015 African Ecological Futures report, launched Tuesday, May 26 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, during the 50th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the institution.
This publication, jointly produced by the AfDB and the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), places the responsible exploitation of natural resources at the heart of sustainable development.
The development and preservation of the African environment are critical for the future of the continent. And it would be no overstatement to say that this concerns every African. It was in these terms that AfDB President Donald Kaberuka set the stage at the report's launch ceremony.
A vision shared by Alassane Ouattara, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mahamadou Issoufou, Thomas Boni Yayi and Ali Bongo Ondimba, Presidents respectively of Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Niger, Benin and Gabon, all of whom marked the launch with their presence.
This publication also represents a major step forward in the realisation of the "African Ecological Futures" project initiated by the WWF Africa Regional Office with AfDB funding, as pointed out by Marco Lambertini, the Director General of WWF. This combat, which is the responsibility of every African, must be crowned by the advent of the green economy. This synergy of action by AfDB and WWF to preserve the environment and provide current and future generations with a healthy place to live will, said Mr Lambertini, "achieve durable growth that takes account of the gradual destruction of Africa's environmental resources and provides solutions to it."
The development/environmental protection equation
While AfDB has a manifest will to place a belt of green around the continent, the balance between economic development and protection of the environment could prove to be very difficult to achieve.
That is why "Africa must opt for sustainable development, no longer on the basis of the classic approach, but by innovating and making bold choices," according to Lambertini.
In short, there is a need to move towards a new mode of development that can establish and maintain the connection between economy and environment in a circle of virtue. The good news, noted Lambertini, is that there are encouraging initiatives at both local and international levels. In Gabon, for example, President Ali Bongo Ondimba mentioned a range of initiatives his government has taken to protect land and sea resources at the same time as focusing on the local processing of raw materials, chief among them wood.
And neither is Côte d'Ivoire to be outdone. The Head of State of the country hosting the 2015 Annual Meetings said Ivorian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Rémi Allah Kouadio, is working towards "zero-deforestation agriculture". This is about stemming the dizzying advance of the desert, which is seriously threatening the environment in general and the forests in particular.
Donald Kaberuka awarded WWF prize
"Is Africa going to be engulfed in the well-trodden paths of environmentally destructive development, or, learning from the mistakes and successes of others, will Africa manage to make a qualitative leap in economic terms and plough new furrows of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development?" asked Lambertini. It is precisely this question that the new publication sets out to answer, outlining various scenarios.
Recognising his activism in support of the battle for the environmental future of Africa, Donald Kaberuka was presented with a WWF Leader for a Living Planet award. Kaberuka said that the prize was shared with every member of AfDB staff. "I would like to give half this prize to Ali Bongo Ondimba for the help he has given us in our fight," added Kaberuka, who ended his speech to the applause of the President of Gabon and all present.