A simple definition of sustainability is: meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generations.
Sustainability is about improving the standard of living by:
  • Conserving the environment
  • Using resources efficiently
  • Protecting human health
  • Advancing long-term economy

Key factors that have a direct correlation on sustainability are: our environment, our society, and our economy.

We are going to take a quick look at why conserving our environment is not only key to a sustainable Africa but also key to the well-being of our society as well as our economy.

Our environment

We can all agree that our environment is transversal: it is the line from which society and economy grow. It is also the pedestal for sustainability.  Hence the efficient management of our environment translates into a healthy society and a strong economy. It is the root source for all capital on earth: natural, human and financial.

So, how do we conserve our environment in order to meet our current needs without compromising our future needs? In order to answer this question, let us answer these simple yet complex issues on how to manage the following:

  •   Our biodiversity (the support of life and human activities),
  •   Our lithosphere (earth crust consisting of rocks and soil – mineral resources),
  •   Our hydrosphere (water sources), and
  •   Our atmosphere (climate, ozone layer etc.) for a sustainable future.

Organizations locally, regionally and globally have been hard at work for decades trying to answer these questions. Today more than never, we, as a society, are more aware of the environmental risks we are facing. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, and its impact on the continent could be disastrous, if we do not implement actions as a society to preserve it. It is our responsibility!

Although we have been witnessing an impressive economic growth in the past 15 years, this does not reflect the current challenges we face such as good governance or infrastructures improvements, which impact our adaptive capacity as whole. However, pointing fingers to our leaders and other government bodies may not be the most effective approach in creating a culture change. These institutions are responsible for voting for policies, which in turn enable us to create economical engines to push a strong economy.

In Africa, we have a heavy dependence on agriculture. This dependence may further increase the vulnerability of the continent being that Africa is prone to frequent natural disasters such as floods and droughts.  For this reason, creating a green culture is fundamental to our environmental adaptive capacity, enabling us to create a sustainable environment to prosper in. As the great Albert Einstein once said: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”. The alarm has rung over and over again.  We, as Africans, must now increase our involvement by using our creative minds to manage our environment.

Let us take a look at actual facts regarding three environmental indicators: forest, water and biodiversity in Africa.