Africa’s population is ‘nearing biological limits’ – Source: peopleandplanet.net
While Africa’s per capita consumption is a very small part of the world’s biological resources, growing population is bringing the region close to reaching it’s ecological limits, according to a groundbreaking report from the Global Footprint Network. (more…)
While Africa’s per capita consumption is a very small part of the world’s biological resources, growing population is bringing the region close to reaching it’s ecological limits, according to a groundbreaking report from the Global Footprint Network.
The report finds the average African had an Ecological Footprint of 1.1 global hectares in 2003, well below the global average of 2.2 hectares per person. However, a growing number of African countries are now depleting their natural resources or will shortly be doing so – faster than they can be replaced.
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT AND POPULATION BY REGION, 2003
Clear dangers loom from a projected more than doubling of Africa’s population by 2050, taking it from about one eighth to nearly a quarter of the total world population.
Produced in conjunction with WWF, and presented to the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Johannesburg in June, the report offers the first in-depth look at the Ecological Footprint of Africa and its constituent countries.
It is the result of a multi-year effort by Global Footprint Network and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to explore how Africa’s ecological limits relate to human development in the region.
The present world food crises shows that human welfare is critically linked to mankind’s use and stewardship of biological resources, the report says. “Nowhere is this more true than in Africa – a region with tremendous natural wealth, yet which often suffers first and most tragically when humanity’s demand on nature exceeds what nature can provide.”
“There is a strong international commitment to improving human well-being in Africa and advancing the Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty, hunger and disease,” said Global Footprint Network Executive Director, Mathis Wackernagel. “Yet, to advance these critical goals and produce lasting success, we need to work with, rather than against, ecological budget constraints. If development ignores the limits of our natural resources, the gains that are made cannot persist, and the most vulnerable people such as the rural poor will be the first to suffer.”
Egypt, Libya and Algeria head the list of African countries living well beyond their ecological means, says the report, with the Ecological Footprints of Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe also exceeding national biocapacity.
However, several African nations are “ecological creditors:” producing more biocapacity than they consume. This stands in contrast to the United States and Europe which are ecological debtors. The US, for example, has a Footprint more than 100 per cent larger than its biocapacity. According to the report, many opportunities exist in Africa to manage and use biocapacity more effectively.
The Africa Report helps chart a course for progress founded on a solid understanding of the region’s ecological assets and pressures.
“There are huge opportunities to improve well-being in lasting ways while staying within our ecological constraints,” Wackernagel said. Among these are giving women access to health choices, education and economic opportunities; designing infrastructure that will make cities more resilient to resource scarcities; and leapfrogging directly to the most resource-efficient technologies instead of using older, more resource dependent ones.