Experts at a recent webinar, organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), have called on the continent of Africa to rethink its management of natural resources.
The reason for the advice, according to AfDB, is to avoid potential negative consequences that could hinder the continent’s journey towards sustainable development.
This discussion took place in preparation for the 2023 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP28), set for November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. COP28 serves as a critical moment for the world to assess its progress regarding the Paris Agreement’s commitments.
The central issue revolves around the sustainable management of natural resources in Africa. This approach is crucial not only for reducing harm to the environment but also for adapting to the challenges posed by climate change.
The webinar received support from the International Resource Panel, based in Geneva, Switzerland, and the World Resource Forum Secretariat. During this event, participants had constructive conversations, sharing their insights on both the difficulties and effective practices related to valuing natural resources.
Merlyn Van Voore, the Head of the International Resource Panel Secretariat, shed light on the global problem of managing natural resources. She pointed out that the world currently lacks suitable tools and frameworks for ensuring the sustainable use of these vital resources.
This highlights the urgent need to reevaluate and reform our approach to managing these valuable assets, with a focus on long-term well-being and environmental sustainability.
“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, extractive workers and companies, end users, and network providers, to manage the recycling of used phones.
Vanessa Ushie, the Acting Director of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resource Management and Investment Centre, 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 percent 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.
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.”