At the end of May, African ministers and heads of state representing ten countries came together in Gaborone, Botswana to discuss strategies for sustainable development on the continent. From this Summit on Sustainability in Africa emerged the Gaborone Declaration, a document intended to feed into discussions at UNCSD Rio+20 and facilitate the development of significant outcomes from the Conference.
Over the course of the two-day Summit, a series of speeches and moderated panel discussions explored issues associated with natural resource use and how to build natural and social capital. Agriculture, being a primary industry and major contributor to GDP in African countries, figured prominently in the discussions. And speakers from NGOs, foundations, government, and the private sector stressed the need for more holistic approaches to producing food, including more integrative planning of soil, water, crops, energy, and natural capital.
What came out of the meeting? The Gaborone Declaration recognizes that past trends in the use of natural resources does not support sustainable growth, environmental health, or social capital, and that actions must be taken to ensure continued economic growth and human well-being in Africa. These actions must be country-driven, while contribute to the “community of nations.” Specifically, participants agreed on the need to:
- Integrate natural capital into national accounting and corporate planning and reporting processes, policies, and programmes
- Build social capital and reduce poverty by transitioning natural resource-based industries, such as agriculture, to more sustainable systems.
- Restore ecosystems to mitigate stresses on natural capital.
- Build knowledge, data, capacity, and policy networks to build leadership and increase momentum for positive change.
- Implement effective communication and public education.
And while these actionable items were endorsed by African leaders, in taking this declaration to Rio+20, the signatories invite other government representatives and stakeholders to support the proposed actions and use the document to catalyze further positive change among nations.
Read the Landscape Blog’s post on the Summit. Conservation International, a co-convener of the Summit, posted on what the meeting could mean for Rio+20. Finally, visit the Summit website to access videos and learn more about the speakers.