Africa needs inclusive strategies and technology innovation to achieve economic development

The outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development provides guidance for achieving the transition to sustainable development as a means of
increasing the well-being of current and future generations in all countries.

Sustainable development strategies need to be inclusive and take special care of the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. Strategies need to be ambitious, action-oriented and collaborative,
taking into account different national circumstances. They will need to systemically change consumption and production patterns, and might entail, inter alia, significant price corrections; encourage the preservation of natural endowments; reduce inequality; and strengthen economic governance.

Such a process will need to minimize the types of consumption and production that have negative externalities, while simultaneously seeking to maximize the types of consumption and production that create positive externalities.

Examples of minimizing negative externalities include reduction of environmental pollution, while examples of positive externalities include, for example, technology adaptation, reduction of food waste and enhanced energy efficiency. Technology will certainly play a major role in this transformation.

Changes in consumption patterns can drive the creation of new technologies necessary for sustainability and their adoption and diffusion at the desired pace. Success in bringing about these changes will require substantial reorganization of the economy and society and changes
in lifestyles. Economic and financial incentives for the creation and adoption of new technologies
will be needed which may include innovative policy reforms.

Poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development. In this large context, protection of climate and environment will need to be pursued as a universally shared goal.

The global relocation of manufacturing and services sectors will also mean that appropriate technical regulation and social standards need to be adopted by developing and developed countries, with technical and financial support for developing countries.

The global sustainable development transformation entails, inter alia, significant price corrections, a strong commitment to preserving natural endowments, a reduction of inequalities, introduction of environmental accounting, strengthening of public spheres of life, redirection of the financial sector to the real economy and sharing of profit and employment. Transformation along these lines may be expected to increase the wellbeing of people, especially the poorest.

Sustainable development strategies of developing countries will continue to give priority to human development, with the eradication of poverty as its central goal.

Human development requires more attention to be directed towards quality issues as well as coherence at the national level. Human development success depends to a large extent on using the opportunities created by globalization and on minimizing its negative effects. In this context, better management of capital flows and macroeconomic regulations may be necessary and coherence between national development strategies and global decision-making is important.

Global institutions have to accommodate the special needs of developing countries, especially those of the least developed countries, the small island developing States, the landlocked developing countries and the countries in post-conflict situations. The global agenda will also need to attach greater importance to human rights, conflict prevention, good governance and reduction of inequality. Developing countries have in fact put forward initiatives that are more advanced than those implemented by developed countries so far. For example, Ecuador and the Plurinational State of Bolivia enshrined the “rights of nature” in their recent constitutions.

Many developing countries are developing their own sustainable lifestyle and consumption patterns, and offer aspirational models. Drawing on their traditional knowledge, they can in many areas leapfrog to more sustainable means of production, including greening of agriculture, industry and services. Developed countries can facilitate this process by offering appropriate cooperation in means of implementation, for example, through technology adaptation and transfer. Thus, both developed and developing countries can enter into a virtuous cycle of cooperation and engagement so as to ensure global sustainable development.