ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, October 19, 2023/ — Africa needs to rethink how it manages its natural resources to avoid adverse socio-economic consequences that could hamper sustainable development on the continent, experts said at a recent webinar organised by the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org).
The call came ahead of the 2023 United Nations Conference on Climate Change scheduled for November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The global conference (COP28) presents a milestone moment when the world will evaluate its progress on the Paris Agreement.
Sustainable management of natural resources in Africa is critical to reducing environmental degradation and encouraging adaptation to climate change.
The African Development Bank organised the webinar with support from the International Resource Panel (www.ResourcePanel.org) and the World Resource Forum Secretariat. Participants shared challenges and best practices on the valuation of natural resources.
Merlyn Van Voore, Head of the International Resource Panel Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, said the world is grappling with the lack of appropriate tools and framework to ensure sustainable management of natural resources.
“There are overlaps between managing natural resources and what it means regarding climate and the sustainable development agenda,” she said.
She said the manufacture of electronics demanded attention. For instance, mobile phones at the end-of-life stage require the involvement of several actors, including manufacturers, extractives workers and companies, end users, and network providers, to manage the recycling of used phones.
Dr. Vanessa Ushie, the Acting Director of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resource Management and Investment Center, said Africa and the world are facing a crisis of nature.
Citing the African Development Bank’s Africa Economic Outlook 2023 report, Ushie said natural resources, including renewables and ecosystem services, generate around 62% of Africa’s GDP.
“Nature is providing essential goods and vital services, and these are not just economic values but ecological, biophysical and environmental values as well. Without fully appreciating these services, we tend to underestimate the value of natural capital,” Ushie said.
Dr. Hans Bruyninckx, a former executive director of the European Environment Agency, said sustainable resource management should be elevated in Africa and in economies worldwide.
“This is important for everybody on this planet given the deeply unequal distribution of costs and benefits of how we do that today, particularly in an African context.”
Historically, Bruyninckx said Africa has been an exporter of resources, but in a deeply unsustainable way. He said going forward, the continent is expected to play a significant role in the energy transition and information technology that the world relies on for smart solutions. But even more so for its social development and well-being of the people.