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close this bookSustaining the Future: Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 pages)
close this folderPart 4: Institutional issues
close this folderModes of international and regional research cooperation
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe global change programmes
View the documentNetworking
View the documentEnvironmental governance
View the documentOutlook
View the documentReferences


Only a marked acceleration of international cooperation will lead to a better understanding of the global environment as a common and shared resource. All countries must be partners in the solution of the world's problems. In this respect we have come to recognize that in Africa, too, environment and development are closely linked, a fact that has profound implications for the well-being of its inhabitants.

Poverty, which contributes so much to the environmental degradation of Africa, can in the long run be overcome only by improving economic development, for which in turn a strengthening of environmental institutions and of environmental education in Africa will be necessary.

The key concept of "sustainable development" may in the long run also clarify the so far rather vague concept of "carrying capacity" (Davis and Bernstam 1990; UNFPA 1991). Parameters related to demographic characteristics, consumption patterns, and productive technologies must increasingly be based on a more concrete understanding of the ecological, social, and economic trade-offs (Rockwell and Moss 1992).

To sum up, if we have to decide on some basic international modes of action, one could also quote US Vice-President Al Gore in his book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (1992). Following the experiences of the Marshall Plan in Europe, he focuses on five strategic goals:

1. stabilization of the world population;

2. the development of ecologically appropriate technologies;

3. changing some of the economic "rules of the game," which would allow the measurement of the consequences of environmental decision-making;

4. negotiating a new generation of international agreements; and

5. the establishment of a cooperative educational plan for the enlightenment of the world population on global environmental matters.