Can local and sustainable agriculture save biodiversity?

By Marco Maria Cerbo, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the Permanent Delegation of Italy to the international organisations in Paris, and Rebecca Graziosi, development co-operation intern

sustainable-agriculture.jpgDuring his speech at the Nobel Banquet, the newly-awarded laureate in Economic Sciences, William D. Nordhaus, declared: “Over the last half-century, the full implications of climate change and its impacts have been illuminated by the intensive research of scientists in different fields. These studies depict an increasingly dire picture of our future under uncontrolled climate change. […] Now, it is up to those who represent us, our elected leaders, to act responsibly to implement durable and effective solutions.”

Data can hardly deny this statement and our planet is now facing an unprecedented emergency. Globally, there is widely-cited evidence that the extinction rate of animal and plant species, as high as 1 000 times the background rate, is increasing rapidly as a result of human activities. In particular, biodiversity in farmland is diminishing, with effects on all of the ecosystem services that are essential to agriculture, including pest control, pollination and climate regulation. Pollution, climate change, over-exploitation of natural resources and changes in land use are the main drivers of biodiversity loss and are clearly related to human activities. Biodiversity is one of the most important legacies we can leave to future generations and its anthropogenic destruction requires urgent action by policy makers and a re-thinking of economic activities. Continue reading

Transformation productive en Afrique : l’heure des choix

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Par Arthur Minsat, Chef d’Unité, Europe, Moyen-Orient & Afrique, Centre de développement de l’OCDE


Ce blog fait partie d’une série marquant
le 19e Forum économique international sur l’Afrique


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Photo by Patrick Sun on Unsplash

Croissance mondiale en baisse, guerre commerciale, automatisation, robotisation … : le commerce international a-t-il encore un rôle positif à jouer dans la transformation des économies de l’Union africaine ?

Si l’on regarde du côté des marchés africains, la réponse est oui : la demande interne a contribué à 69% de la croissance du continent depuis 2000, la maintenant à une moyenne de 4.6% par an, soit la plus rapide au monde après l’Asie (7,4%). Or, cette demande dynamique, portée par une croissance démographique forte, l’urbanisation et l’émergence de « classes moyennes » s’oriente de plus en plus vers des produits transformés comme l’alimentation, les boissons, la viande ou les machines génératrices d’électricité : l’un des principaux obstacles à l’émergence d’un secteur manufacturier africain riche en emplois—la faiblesse de la demande domestique—est ainsi en passe d’être levé !  Or non seulement cette « mégatendance » s’installe pour plusieurs décennies, mais elle prend de l’ampleur au moment où la perspective d’une Zone de Libre-échange Continentale Africaine (ZLECA) rend possible un bond du commerce intra-africain. Continue reading

Urban Management in Africa Observed

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By Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza, Director, Regional Office for Africa, UN-Habitat; and
Marco Kamiya, Head, Urban Economy and Finance Branch, UN-Habitat, Global Headquarters in Keny


This blog is part of a series marking the 
19th International Economic Forum on Africa 


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Downtown Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: unhabitat.org

Africa is at a defining moment in its developmental journey. After experiencing 5% growth from 2001 to 2014, and a slowdown in between, the continent is projected to grow by over 3.5% in 2020 (UN, 2019). Continued economic progress presents opportunities for further accelerated, sustained, and inclusive growth provided that the right policies are put in place.

However, low productivity levels in manufacturing, services and the agricultural sector pose a major threat of economic stagnation with effects on African cities. Africa’s Development Dynamics 2019 by the OECD and the African Union Commission shows that Africa has a labour productivity ratio that is 50% lower than Asia’s and only 12% that of the United States. We believe that low productivity correlates with the quality of urbanisation. We define the quality of urbanisation as human settlements and communities that are able to capture the benefits of urban growth and expansion, quantified by more local and foreign investment, increased regional and international trade, enhanced revenues for local governments, better services for citizens and the activation of a virtuous circle where economic growth and welfare become self-reinforcing (UN-Habitat, 2017).

So, what are the most pressing needs of African cities to improve their quality of urbanisation? Below, we would like to share some general observations from our field projects that could serve to support policy design.[i] Continue reading

How do Nations Learn? Why Development is First and Foremost About Learning

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By Dr Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia 


This blog is part of a series marking the upcoming 
19th International Economic Forum on Africa 


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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Policy makers and academics alike puzzle over why some countries achieve economic ‘growth miracles’ while others lag behind. Of the 100 middle-income economies in 1960, fewer than a dozen transitioned into high-income economies. Economic history and empirical observations show that progress is linked to how nations learn and more specifically to the processes of technological learning, industrial policy, and catch-up. By looking at the cases of Japan, the United States, China and Ethiopia, I argue that commitment to learning by governments and dynamic technological learning by firms are key to economic catch-up. How these and other nations learn can provide valuable insight for African countries.

How did Japan overtake Europe in the mid-20th century?

The key driver of catch-up in Japan was technological learning and an active industrial policy. Japan’s learning experience involved the transfer of skills and knowledge, the importation of equipment and the acquisition of turnkey projects to develop technological capability. Japan also developed industrial infrastructure, including railways and the telegraph, by deploying state-owned enterprises. Continue reading

A Sceptics Guide to the African Continental Free Trade Area – and Why the Sceptics are Wrong…

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By Andrew Mold, Acting Director, Office for Eastern Africa, Economic Commission for Africa, Kigali, Rwanda


This blog is part of a series marking the upcoming 
19th International Economic Forum on Africa 


Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels
Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

Scepticism is never in short supply, generally speaking, and particularly in the era we are currently living through. This is often true when it comes to bold policy initiatives on the African continent. Yet I would argue that a lack of faith is certainly not warranted in the case of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Objections to the AfCFTA follow familiar lines. There are a series of misconceptions which underpin these objections:

“African countries all trade the same things”

Despite evidence of some diversification of exports occurring over recent decades, this is largely true; Africa is still heavily dependent on traditional export crops and commodities, reducing the scope for mutually beneficial trade. Yet this paints an excessively simplified view of trends in regional trade. Patterns of trade are changing rapidly. The traditional export market outside the continent of Africa (Europe, the United States and, increasingly, India and China) are of primary commodities, but the intra-regional component of trade is much more diversified, with high shares of non-traditional exports and manufactured goods, as illustrated by the case of the East African Community (EAC). Continue reading

Et si la crise sécuritaire du Sahel était aussi (voire avant tout) économique ?

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Par Maman Sambo Sidikou, Secrétaire permanent du G5 Sahel[1]


Ce blog fait partie d’une série marquant
le 19e Forum économique international sur l’Afrique


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Femme tirant de l’eau d’un puits en Natriguel, Mauritanie. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam/Flickr

Le Sahel vit un tournant, une accélération de l’histoire dont le coût humain est élevé. Nos jeunes pays connaissent une croissance démographique sans précédent. Notre population est de plus en plus jeune et de plus en plus urbaine. Même si elle est élevée, la croissance économique ne permet pas de répondre aux attentes des habitants de plus en plus nombreux. Sur nos vastes territoires, certaines interrogations se font aujourd’hui pressantes. Pourquoi, alors que la « frontière » est la marque de l’État, sa présence y est-elle si discrète ? Quelle attention est accordée aux citoyens vivant loin des capitales ? Comment, lorsque l’on est absent, être perçu comme « légitime », digne de confiance et capable de changer le cours des choses ? C’est à ces questions que nos États et sociétés doivent répondre. Continue reading

Overcoming the Challenges of the Transition and Exit from Aid

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By Annalisa Prizzon, Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute 


This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets
of 
Development in Transition


 

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Flat stairs, Sao Paulo by Jared Yeh / Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND

Since 2000, the number of low-income countries (LICs) has more than halved — from 63 to 31 — and have now joined the ranks of middle-income countries (MICs). Typically, these economies have strengthened their macroeconomic management, played a stronger and more visible role in global policy, diversified their sources of finance and received less external development assistance (or ceased to benefit materially from it).

As developing countries become richer and address their own development challenges, donors usually reconsider their programming and interventions. And so, transition and exit from bilateral development co-operation programmes should rightfully be celebrated as an indicator of success in economic and social development.

Challenges facing financing for development

However, as countries graduate from soft windows of multilateral development banks or as bilateral donors cut their country programmes — or they shift to loans if that is an option — the financing mix changes. Reliance on tax revenues and commercial finance when aid starts falling inevitably expands, and so does the costs to service debt obligations. Tax revenues do not necessarily increase to fill the gap. Continue reading