JOHANNESBURG - African leaders are meeting in Botswana's capital to produce a declaration on sustainable development in Africa. The meeting is preparation for the United Nations Conference on Sustainability next month.
Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama says that Africa’s natural resources are being depleted at an ever-increasing rate. Mr. Khama spoke at Africa’s first summit on sustainable development, in Gaborone.
“The increasing loss of biological diversity, land degradation, destruction of coastal margins, desertification, water stress, food insecurity, health pandemics and natural disasters have become regular headlines," he said. "Climate change threatens the very sustainability of our livelihoods and poverty continues to overwhelm our development efforts.”
The summit has been organized in conjunction with Conservation International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that works with communities to protect their natural resources.
Several African presidents, ministers and senior officials are discussing a road map for sustainable development in Africa and use of the continent's resources.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the meeting that Africa’s resources are widely exploited for export, with little benefit accruing to the communities from which they come and often at great environmental cost. She said it is up to Africans to change the way business is done on the continent.
“I believe our task at this conference, is to conceptualize new approaches on how to account for, how to integrate, every aspect of our national development policies," she said. "Increasingly, one of the imperatives of any sustainable development is to strike the right balance, between our current needs and our global future.”
The conference will run through Friday and will produce a declaration on sustainable development for Africa ahead of Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainability to be held in Rio de Janeiro in late June.