This newsletter gives you highlights of selected sustainability insights that were, perhaps, too long (you) didn’t read (TLDR) or there’s just too much out there to read. The highlights presented cover insights gleaned from a global, regional (African), and national (Kenyan) perspective. Happy reading!
In November 2022, the world’s population will reach 8 billion people the UN announced in July.
In all regions, there’s been improvement in life expectancy and falling fertility in the past decades. Developing countries have growing populations while some of the world’s richest countries are experiencing population decline.
While the poorest countries worry about how to meet the needs of their growing populations, the richest countries are keen to raise fertility rates. Countries with ageing populations are worried about labor/skills shortages, slow economic growth and lower productivity, cultural and ethical shifts in their societies; and weaker political and military power.
There are 3 key principles to demographic change: fertility, life expectancy, and net migration. On fertility, globally millions of women don’t have the right, access or ability to choose whether to have children or how many. In terms of life expectancy, its generally the accepted goal that everyone should live longer. For migration, well it’s too often such a complex and sensitive for policymakers to discuss – the narrative and fears of waves of migrants are often louder than the reality, which is about 2-4% of people actually live outside their country.
Demographic change is a mega-trend for sustainable development and achieving the SDGs. More people means higher production and greater consumption, increased pressure on the natural environment; and probably exacerbating climate change and inequalities.
- Using population data to plan ahead – countries need to use population data (numbers, age structures, spatial distribution, etc) to understand current and future needs of their populations for development strategies.
- Establish resilient societies and institutions – countries ought to create economic and social systems that meet the needs of their populations; and not the other way round – populations meeting the needs of the systems.
- Drive people-centred population polices – policies that empower people on their reproductive aspirations and choices, rather than hinder those choices. At the end of the day, it is the household that bears the responsibility of population (growth or decline) and meeting their needs.
My two-cents: Demographic change will remain topical and a mega-trend for decades to come. There is no silver bullet and its unrealistic to expect or try to determine an ideal population size. In my view, its critical that women have the right, choice and agency for their bodies and the responsibilities having children brings. And yes, women’s partners can definitely weigh in on the discussion. At the end of the day, population boils down to a woman, a couple, a family deciding on children – then you can aggregate that to get to national population.
Africa’s economies rely heavily on climate-sensitive sectors e.g. agriculture, tourism/hospitality, energy, blue economy, etc. The 55 countries that the African Union represents are willing to do their part in the global response to Climate Change. This plan is the continental strategic framework for action and cooperation to address Climate Change, improve livelihoods, boost adaptation, and low-emission and sustainable economic growth in the next 10 years.
We have summarized this strategic framework for you with this diagram:
My two-cents: It is important for Africa to have a common and shared approach to climate change – we go farther when we work together. This will be particularly relevant at the November 2022 COP 27 in Egypt, for Africa to own its voice and seat at the global table.
Now that the Supreme Court has made its ruling, The President-Elect will be the 5th President of the Republic of Kenya.
The insights presented here are adapted from an article by Greenpeace Africa’s Claire Nasike.
Here’s a summary, on what I have gleaned, on the President-Elect’s manifesto priorities and commitments related to the environment:
- Agriculture: affordable working capital to farmers, crop and livestock insurance and commodity market instruments, increased productivity of subsistence and export crops including revamping and expanding exported crops; boosting water management practices; providing financing and technical extension support.
- Environment: tackling deforestation and air pollution, enhancing agroforestry, modernize wood fuel, promoting circular economy in solid waste management particularly plastics.
- Climate Change: was referenced but there didn’t seem to be clear plans related to adaptation and mitigation.
The manifesto didn’t seem to highlight: wildlife conservation, water pollution, toxic pesticides, preserving indigenous seeds or smallholder farming diversification.
My two-cents: Like every Kenyan, we hope for development that will meet the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs – leadership, is key for this.