Greening African Economies, Abuja

written by: Mark Swilling on Saturday, 29 March 2014. Posted in Academic News, News

Mark Swilling delivers keynote

Greening African Economies, Abuja

The Seventh Joint Annual Conference of the UN Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance took place in Abuja, Nigeria, 27-31 March 2014. Mark Swilling was invited to deliver a keynote address to a Side Event hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa to address the theme Greening Africa's Economies and Structural Transformation. Opening remarks were delivered by Carlos Lopes, UN ECA Executive Secretary and Un Under-Secretary General. The Chairperson was Fatima Denton, Director of Special Initiatives in the UN ECA. The Africa Regional Director for UNEP, Mounkaila Goumandakoye, delivered the first talk on 'Towards a Green Economy Roadmap for Africa'. He cited 20 African countries where meaningful progress is being made to formulate and implement green economy policy frameworks. He made it clear that it takes 7=10 years to reap the benefits of these policies. 

The Panel that was invited to respond to the keynote address by Mark Swilling included the following: H.E.K.Y Amoako, Director of the African Center for Economic Transformation in Ghana and former Executive Secretary of the UN ECA; Dr. A. Tekeste, Ethiopia's State Minister of Finance and Economic Development; H.E. Henri Djambo, Congo's Minister of Sustainable Development, Foresty Economy and Environment; Dr. Musheibu Mohammed Alfa, Ghana's Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation; and Adnan Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).  

Text of the Talk by Mark Swilling:

"As an African who spends a lot of time anticipating African futures, I often get asked where I draw my inspiration. I used to refer to two great African texts: Ben Okri's Mental Fight and Wangari Mathai's speech when she received the Nobel Prize. But there is a third that I can put on this short list. I am referring to the speech by Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, 30 January 2014. This speech, for those of you who may not have read it, is an email written in 2063 looking back at how Africa had been transformed during the 50 years since 2013 into a peaceful place where everyone can live a good life.

Making sense of undernutrition and overconsumption

written by: Mark Swilling on Monday, 10 February 2014. Posted in News

Agenda-setting for sustainability in the South African food sector

Making sense of undernutrition and overconsumption

The Sustainability Institute continues to generate research on food systems. This is part of a general strategy to build up within the African context an influential body of expertise and knowledge committed to ongoing research on global, African and local food systems. This food systems perspective is very different to the 'food security' perspective that tends to be production-centred and therefore fails to challenge the logics and structure of the global food industry in general and the supermarket-centred value chains. Making sense of undernutrition and overconsumption: Agenda-setting for sustainability in the South African food sector is a new report compiled by the Sustainability Institute for Ernst and Young. Click HERE for a copy.  

Carboon Footpringint Guide

written by: Mark Swilling on Monday, 10 February 2014. Posted in News

Carboon Footpringint Guide

Last week Nedbank formally launched the Carbon Footpringting Guide. Compiled by a SI Projects led by Prof Alan Brent, this Guide provides Nedbank's clients with a user-friendly manual for assessing the carbon footprint of particular activities and structures. Click HERE for a copy.

Prof Russel Botman selects iShack Project as his #neknomination

written by: Mark Swilling on Saturday, 08 February 2014. Posted in News

Prof Russel Botman selects iShack Project as his #neknomination

In response to South Africa's unique socially responsible approach to the #neknomination phenomenon, the SRC President at Stellenbosch University on Friday challenged the Rector Prof Russel Botman. He decided to select the iShack Project, donating R10 000 and in so doing challenged the ten Deans of the University to rise to a similar challenge. Lets hope the Deans also select the iShack Project. Click HERE for the Youtube clip.

Assessing Global Land Use

written by: Mark Swilling on Sunday, 02 February 2014. Posted in News

Balancing Consumption with Sustaianble Supply

Assessing Global Land Use

The International Resource Panel released a new report last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Entitled Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply, the report was written by a team led by Stefan Bringezu from the Wuppertal Institute in Germany and included Mark Swilling as a co-lead author. The report integrates research on the challenge of finding sufficient land to meet future demands with research on soil degradation and nutrient cycles. In the past, land as area measured in hectares and soils assessed in terms of nutrient content were regarded as unrelated concerns.  The report shows that if current trends continue, cropland will need to expand by between 20% and 55%. However, from a biodiversity loss perspective, the expansion of cropland needs to be halted. Cities are expected to expand into the most productive lands on the planet. For the Full Report, Summary and short Factsheet, click HERE. For the ppt presentation click HERE.

 

Letter from Ethiopia

written by: Mark Swilling on Tuesday, 10 December 2013. Posted in News

Letter from Ethiopia

Sofie Blom was awarded a mobility bursary to conduct research for her Master's thesis (supervised by Eve Annecke) in Northern Ethiopia. Others will follow in her footsteps. Here is her letter and photos:

My experience in Ethiopia:
In March 2013 my partner and I moved for half a year to Mekele, North Ethiopia as part of the TRECCAfrica programme. The experience was very special; I would highly recommend it!
Mekele is a city with around 200 000 inhabitants in North Ethiopia. The surroundings are hilly and rocky and it is quiet dry as all the rain falls between July and September. The city is lively and nice to explore on foot. Many coffee places, juice bars, market, cows, donkeys, goats, people and so on. Finding all your food means shopping at 10 different places as the biggest supermarket in town has the size of a small kiosk. The milk you buy is still warm from the cow and your stomach works hard to digest all the ‘injera’, a kind of sour pancake which is eaten all day long.
Traveling through the villages is very calming, no advertisements, only oxen, people walking and preparing food; only natural colours. The people are friendly and very hospitable which made my research experience very positive. Even when we just arrived at the schools without notice, they always made time for us and were willing to participate in the research. On the other hand, the people are not very direct and would not easily say what they really think about you or the issues you present. There is also a language barrier, as not everybody speaks English. The government is also very much in control so not everybody feels free to be critical of the state or big organisations.
Amanuel Zenebe, the coordinator of the TRECCAfrica programme is very hospitable as well although he is very busy. Amdom and Henok work also for the programme and will help you and you might even share an office with them. The university also offers courses, but unfortunately I was too busy with my thesis to take any. The university is less organised than in Stellenbosch so it can be a challenge to find out the courses and timetable.
Ethiopia is a very unique country and very proud of the fact that they have never been colonized. I loved the challenge of living in such a different place where you experience what it really means to eat locally produced food and where communication between people is mostly on a different, indirect level. There is an interesting mix between mainstream development and one that follows its own path.
I hope this gives you a feeling of my experience in Ethiopia and I hope it makes you curious to explore this unique place and people by yourself!
Please contact me if you have any questions.

All the best, Sofie

 

Masters students present their research

written by: Mark Swilling on Monday, 09 December 2013. Posted in News

Masters students present their research

On 8th November several Masters students who have completed their research projects presented their research. Like the maturing olive trees that they helped plant outside the Main Building, these students are starting to produce research that flows from our experiments with transdisciplinary research methodologies. Two of the presentations were based on transdisicplinary research in Enkanini, both related to community-based waste management strategies (Mollat & Von Der Hyde). Others included the ethics of sustainability transitions (Robertson), innovations for rural development (Strachan), seed politics (Swanepoel), sustainability and planning (Gardner), sustainability bench-marking (Meiring), youth development (Qaqamba),  extractivism in Africa (Huber) and barriers to local level renewable energy solutions (Tshehla). For abstracts of the papers clicke here. The final versions of the research will be loaded onto this website after graduation in March 2014.

Josephine Musango selected for global South science workshop

written by: Mark Swilling on Monday, 09 December 2013. Posted in News

Josephine Musango selected for global South science workshop

Dr Josephine Musango of School of Public Leadership (SPL) has been selected as one of two young scientists from Africa to participate in The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Workshop. TWAS is an international science academy founded in 1983 by a distinguished group of scientists from the South under the leadership of the late Nobel laureate Abdus Salam, and promotes scientific excellence in the South for science-based sustainable development.
The theme for workshop is Innovative Energy Policies for a Sustainable Future, and will take place on 9-13 December 2013 in Trieste, Italy. The workshop is expected to bring together 10 young scientists from five regions, government representatives and other key players to discuss challenges and policies in the energy sector, in relation to sustainable energy policies. It will provide a platform for open discussions between the scientific and policymaking communities with the view to apply scientific knowledge to solve real-life problems in developing countries.
Dr Musango is excited to take part in the discussions and this is what she has to say about the upcoming workshop: ‘Shaped by my Transdisciplinary Doctoral work on Technology Assessment of Renewable Energy Sustainability in South Africa, I have had a long felt desire to continue doing research that will make a difference in policy, business and society. This is exemplified by the approach I have been taking in doing research, that is, transdisciplinary approach, which is doing Science with Society. Participating in TWAS will thus provide a platform for bridging Science-Policy gap, and seeking how science can inform and support policy development as well as scientific communities conducting policy relevant research’.