CONCLUSION

From the scenario narratives it is clear that contrasting yet plausible stories can be created as to how Africa and its sub-regions will develop in the next 20 years. Each has fundamentally different implications for the environment. The scenarios constructed here are based on the understanding of current conditions and driving forces, a vision of the future and a coherent story of a process of change, leading to that future. Specific assumptions have been made across a range of dimensions and issues: economic growth and structure, population, technology, resources and the environment. The alternative possibilities that emerge are significant as points of departure that can guide policy for the harnessing of environmental resources for sustainable development. Although there can be marked delays between human actions, including policy decisions, and associated impacts on the environment, positive long-term impacts of the policy decisions obviously outweigh the cost of inaction. The achievement of widely-agreed environmental, economic and social goals will require dramatic and coordinated action, starting now and continuing for a number of years. Steps must include proactive policies based on prevention and adaptation that address issues of development and human vulnerability.

Fortunately or
unfortunately, much
of the success or
failure of this
endeavour is in our
hands. The four
scenarios show that
the future is not
something that we
should wait for
passively.

AEO-1 (UNEP 2002b)

The scenarios presented here demonstrate the importance of interlinkages between the environmental, social, economic and political spheres, both within and across sub-regions. Environmental and sustainable development policy must look for the synergies or “co- benefits” and conflicts between policies must be avoided. The establishment of strong institutions for environmental governance, as policy, is a prerequisite for almost all other policies. The political will and vision of governments and other authorities determine, above everything else, whether environmentally sustainable development comes within reach of countries in the region. The mainstreaming of environmental issues in the development process will demand that timely access to accurate information is ensured as this in itself is a robust policy. The achievement of environmental goals will require decisive action, will encounter unforeseen eventualities and will not happen overnight. AEO-1 noted that, “Fortunately or unfortunately, much of the success or failure of this endeavour is in our hands. The four scenarios show that the future is not something that we should wait for passively” (UNEP 2002b). The choice is up to us, in the words of Nelson Mandela, first president of democratic South Africa:

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.”

NELSON MANDELA
SPEAKING IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON,
3 FEBRUARY 2005 (MAKE POVERTY HISTORY 2005)