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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
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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

Institutional issues

International environmental institutions and organizations for international regional cooperation are at last facing up to threats to global environments and the need to share and exchange scientific data and knowledge concerning environmental issues. Particularly important are the "global change" programmes and the role of certain United Nations agencies, such as the UN Environment Programme and the Man and the Biosphere Programme of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in addition to such nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as the International Council of Scientific Unions with its International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the World Conservation Union (formerly known as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). An important joint initiative of the United Nations University (UNU), the International Social Science Council, the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Studies, and UNESCO has been the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme (HDP), set up to foster a global network of scientists, select core projects such as global risk assessment, critical regions, and potential sealevel rise, and develop appropriate information systems and methodologies. The programme on Critical Zones in Global Environmental Change and an initiative on famine vulnerability are carried out in collaboration with the International Geographical Union. UNU's environmental research programmes, other than those related to HDP, emphasize regional and local sustainability through appropriate environmental and resource management. Major initiatives include the long-term project on Population, Land Management, and Environmental Change (PLEC) and the development of an Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU/INRA).

A very large number of non-governmental organizations is engaged in problems of natural resource use and environmental management in Sub-Saharan Africa. They are extremely diverse in scope, interest, and size. Many, of particular importance for future environmental democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, are local or regional and operate through communities or social groups at the "grass-roots" level. Some of these are welfare oriented, while others are research based. Generally they are driven by their feelings of unease about the economic order, the state of the resource base, and evidence of social injustice. Often they have been able to spearhead strategies for wise resource management and forge cross-border and inter-institutional links for cooperative research and policy formulation.