Why focus on land and natural resources?
Stability and security are directly linked to sustainability in Africa. Land degradation, desertification and drought, in particular, have a profound effect on the availability of natural resources. With less productive land and water available, economic opportunity is vanishing in rural areas. Competition over access to the remaining productive resources is growing. As the population continues to rise and the demand for resources continues to expand, tension over land can be expected to accelerate in both rural and urban settings.
So it is increasingly clear that unequal and inadequate access to healthy and productive natural resources can trigger instability. Poorly managed or degraded land and natural resources are an ecological, social and economic liability. Land dependent communities are having their choices taken away. Migration or conflict over land and resources are often the only options left. Climate change further exacerbates these trends.
However, there is a growing understanding that the good management of land and other shared natural capital can be the basis for cooperation and confidence-building in unstable societies. For much of Africa, land is essential for the creation of future wealth. Preserving and revitalizing the natural resource base and creating sufficient decent jobs for the continent’s growing workforce will be vital in the years to come. It can be the basis for a new sustainable economic model for future generations.