Three years ago, Global Footprint Network and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation joined together to launch the multi-phased Human Development Initiative, focused on Africa. Its purpose: To explore how ecological limits affect human development.
Africa: Ecological Footprint Factbook 2009, released in February, was the latest result of that ongoing initiative. The 20-page report features three countries: Egypt, Tanzania and Zambia, and includes Ecological Footprint and biocapacity trends, as well as guest perspectives on each country’s environmental issues and challenges.
The report will be distributed at the Commission on Sustainable Development meeting (CSD-17) in New York in May – a fitting venue, given that the event will be focusing on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and the region of Africa. Among the events participants will be government, UN and major organization representatives, all of whom are seeking innovative solutions to address these issues.
“The challenge facing Africa is especially serious,” wrote CSD-17 chair, Gerda Verburg. “It is a new reality to which global warming and declining natural resources are now adding an unprecedented sense of urgency. Ever rising trends in energy consumption are a major concern. Reports show that we are using far more of our natural resources than our planet can regenerate. As a global society we cannot accept increasing levels of poverty and hunger. So, we are faced with one of the toughest challenges in this new millennium.”
Currently, Global Footprint Network is working on the second phase of the Africa Factbook, which will be 150 pages and feature 30 African countries. The expanded report, to be released in July, will be distributed to professionals who work in the development sector, and who make decisions on investments and natural resource management in these countries, including government officials.
As Africa works to meet its goals to reduce poverty, hunger and disease, natural resources will play a crucial role in the success or failure of these efforts. That is why the Human Development Initiative is so vital, and why we hope these reports will turn our data into meaningful action.
Download the Africa Factbook (7.8 mb)