The Social Link

“THE” second most important topic in sustainability is probably social sustainability. Western Australia Council of Social Services (WACOSS) defines it as: ” when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and liveable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life.”

The basic notion of sustainability refers to taking future generations into account while being aware that our actions have an impact on others and the world at large. This cognitive concept can also help us define social sustainability. Still, we should take into consideration that social sustainability encompasses various topics that are in themselves complex, yet vital to the improvement of social sustainability.

The main topics linked to social sustainability are human rights, social justice, cultural equity, community development, good governance, corporate social responsibility, labor rights and social capital.

Although they are the major factors in resolving the social sustainability equation, we cannot help but remind ourselves that the key to solving an equation is simplifying it. In order to do so, we can focus on three main pillars in ensuring social sustainability, which are Health, Education and Poverty.  The reasoning behind this simplification is that social sustainability is about securing and improving our social resources for present and future needs. In order to do so, we must cultivate the ability to increase value towards our human capital, hence investing in the enablers (health, education and eradicating poverty).

For Africa, social sustainability is the common denominator in most challenges facing the continent. Our continent has seen tremendous improvement over the past decades. Economies are growing, good governance is seeing the light of the day in most regions and social wellbeing indicators are proving the quality of life has improved. Though we are witnessing remarkable progress towards development, capacity building challenges are still slowing down our trajectory.

These challenges are in direct correlation with education, health and gender equality.  Close to 50 % of the world’s share of children out of school is in Africa, and by 2030 Africa will account for almost 800 million in total Adult population. Empowering our human resource is key to advancing social sustainability in Africa. The timing could not be better. We are witnessing improvements in many socio-economical aspects, which underlines the fact that we must continue to relentlessly work in concert to:

  • Strive to meet the basic needs of society (Food security and Shelter)
  • Have the ability to build upon and maintain our own resources
  • Offer a sense of togetherness (community development, interdependence)
  • Inclusive and provide opportunities for all (gender equality, education)
  • Tolerant and respectful of diversity (culture equity)

Now let us take a look at some quick facts on the continent demography, health, food availability and literacy.

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