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close this bookSustaining the Future. Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 p.)
close this folderIntroduction
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEconomy and society: Development issues
View the documentEnvironmental issues and futures
View the documentEnvironment and resource management
View the documentInstitutional issues
View the documentEnvironment and development in Ghana
View the documentRecommendations
View the documentReferences


For several of the issues concerning the sustainability of environmental and resource management futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, the analyses and arguments produced at the conference provided the basis for a number of recommendations:

1. Only a marked acceleration of the pace with which cooperation is developed both between the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and between the countries of the North and Sub-Saharan Africa in research programmes and in future policy-making and management of key resource problems will make it possible to cope with increasing environmental deterioration, but first the complex interrelationships between population, environment, and sustainable development will require more study.

2. It is essential to halt the vicious spiral of worsening poverty and environmental degradation wherever it occurs, although most of the Sub-Saharan countries are poorly provided with the means to do so or even to undertake the necessary research. In fragile environments afflicted by poverty, with high levels of vulnerability to hazard and frequently dependent on external aid, the prospects for the long-term programmes required are bleak, more especially also where economies have been damaged or destroyed by warfare. In many cases the economic reforms meant to reverse current economic decline have incurred a heavy cost, worsening the condition of many poor people.

3. Promotion of social and political restructuring is required to make economic and environmental reforms effective, and should be combined with the development of more appropriate international relationships, particularly in the fields of world trade and international finance, where Sub-Saharan Africa has a heavy burden of debt and declining levels of international investment.

4. In order to promote the rehabilitation of already degraded areas and prevent further degradation, wherever threatened, strategies are required to improve natural resource management. For this purpose the network of the UNU's Research and Training Centres, including UNU/ INRA, should be developed further. The need to examine the political realities of financing such environmental activity, to improve the public accountability of the appropriate government departments, and to impose financial discipline was accepted, together with advice on how research organizations and government agencies should approach the Global Environmental Facility.

5. To minimize future environmental damage and degradation, research should be developed into modifying production systems in both agriculture and industry, including mining, and into developing new methods of production. Land use and labour efficiency need to be improved, including, for example, the minimization of drudgery in farm work, especially in the various operations performed by women, and this will have important implications for health, nutrition, and education.

6. Research and development in appropriate technology should also be expanded, particularly in the area of biotechnology, including, for example, the introduction of more productive seeds and livestock, the development of local capabilities in the use of biogas and more efficient woodstoves, the expansion of agro-forestry techniques, and the recycling of waste, in part to relieve resource pressure by widening the resource base and improving productive efficiency.

7. To improve the urban environment it is essential to promote the acceleration of key elements in the urbanization process. These include the training of urban management, the elimination of inequitable management practices, the improvement of the revenue and resource base, and the adoption of more realistic and practical development codes and standards, including strategies for upgrading squatter settlements and self-help housing and improving water supply and waste disposal.

8. The environmental institutions of Sub-Saharan Africa must be strengthened, particularly environmental education at all levels. A more holistic approach to a whole range of economic, social, political, and environmental problems must be adopted and taught. Such an approach, based on both multi- and inter-disciplinary studies, is regarded as essential for policy formulation and should be based on sound monitoring, data recording, and analysis.

9. It is essential that research and development should be participatory. That is, the people of Sub-Saharan Africa should themselves be involved in and contribute to the design and implementation of programmes intended to change their lives and to create a sustainable environmental future that is technologically feasible, economically viable, and socially acceptable.