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Africa Ecological Futures 2

© Martin Harvey / WWF

Africa’s rapid population growth and economic expansion are putting increasing pressure on the continent’s ecosystems, key habitats and species.

The issue

Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past decade and is expected to increasingly assert its role as a global economic player while lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Much of this growth is related to the rich natural capital with which the continent is endowed – fertile agricultural land, minerals, healthy fish stocks and forest resources supplying both local demand and export markets. The continent’s iconic wildlife, coral reefs and other ecosystems sustain a thriving tourism sector.

However, Africa’s rapid population growth and economic expansion including large-scale agricultural development, growth in extractive industries, urbanisation and infrastructure programmes are putting increasing pressure on the continent’s ecosystems, key habitats and species.

As Africa shifts gear, there are opportunities to ensure that its ecological and natural resource base – the foundation of its growth – is not irrevocably damaged and can continue to support long-term sustainable development. To make the right choices it is critical that policy makers understand the links between drivers such as population growth, socio-economic development, climate change, energy, food and water needs.

Now is the time to design development pathways that will lead Africa towards a long-term sustainable future in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and other international environmental commitments necessary for its own prosperity.

Leading Africa towards a long-term sustainable future

© Martin Harvey / WWF
The project

With support from the Luc Hoffmann Institute, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have launched a second phase of the African Ecological Futures (AEF) project.

A first series of reports under this initiative was published in 2015, designed to guide the policy and investment decisions of governments, intergovernmental organisations and development banks, among others, and to inform the strategies of the AfDB itself.

Building on the findings of the project’s first phase, the second phase of African Ecological Futures is working with partners to:

  • Produce evidence-based, collaborative and actionable research to provide further insight into Africa’s development options and inform policy. This includes understanding existing and future trends in physical and ecological infrastructure and their implications for Africa’s economic development through tools, methods, data and scenarios mapping.
  • Convene a wide range of stakeholders including WWF, AfDB and UN Environment to begin discussions on how to map Africa’s key natural assets against ongoing and future development plans and investment projects.
  • Provide concrete recommendations for several political intervention points at the national, regional and global level. Influence physical infrastructural investment decisions through ecological futures thinking, evidence-based research, capacity development and partnerships.
  • Assess cities planning to establish broad trends in physical and ecological infrastructure needs of cities across Africa and test, through pilots, new models of resilient and climate-smart cities.
  • Ensure ecological futures thinking, tools and methods are shared and mainstreamed within finance development institutions investing in Africa and national planning agencies, and to foster continued learning among key agencies and institutions.

© naturepl.com / Lisa Hoffner / WWF
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© WWF / Simon Rawles