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!
The Goalkeeper Report 2022 was recently published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – it’s an annual report that keeps track on global progress to achieving the SDGs by 2030.
7 years in, and globally we are not on track to achieve any Goal. Yet, in 2015 who would have been able to anticipate the C-19 pandemic and its impacts, the wars in Yemen, Ukraine; or the gripping hold pulling womens’ rights back in the US, Afghanistan, Iran; all these and others have set back progress on the Global Goals.
But there’s hope! And that is humanity’s ingenuity. The report selects two key problems 1) Food security 2) Gender equality as key levers, game changers in demonstrating human ingenuity to solve large scale/SDG issues.
- Gender Equality
Crises affect women and girls significantly more – and as a result, today women and girls are worse off than before. This is because they have always and still been most affected by inequality – especially economic. Despite efforts to empower women (skills, jobs, cash, etc) the fundamental issue remains that women are not gaining power, decision-making, agency in their families and communities e.g. ‘the difference between having money – and being able to spend it.’ (Goalkeepers, 2022). Here’s how human ingenuity can shift the tide:
- Enabling digital money/financial tools directly to women is now giving them more opportunity to spend, invest, save; than if they were given cash.
- For women to have full economic power, real caregiving infrastructure has to be in place. If affordable childcare is made available to women, they can better contribute to their family’s income, and the economy. A study on 3 countries (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa) showed that when governments provide better childcare policies, funding and infrastructure; about 15 million women would be able to enter the labour market. (Kidogo – an example of low-income, affordable childcare in East Africa).
When women have control over their money – their children are more likely to attend school, families are healthier, income grow.
- Food Security
First of what is food security? ‘Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (World Food Summit, 1996).
Russia’s war in Ukraine is showing us how fragile and disproportionate food security is across the world.
The issue is: ‘Where it is easy to produce food, and where it isn’t.’ (Goalkeepers, 2022).
African nations don’t produce enough to feed themselves domestically – so most import. The challenge here are conditions for farmers labour e.g. size of farm land, farm inputs, financing, changing weather /climate change.
Globally less is spent on agricultural research (USD 9Bn) than on food aid (USD 57Bn) – this shows that globally, we are being reactive, rather than proactive when it comes to a basic survival need. But here is how human ingenuity is creating hope:
- AI (artificial intelligence) predictive modeling in agriculture is helping to map out what farms need to look like in the future – what will be optimal to grow and where; and also establishing early warning systems on disease outbreaks speeding up preventive action.
- Traditional food crops (UNU-IRNA, 2022) and hybrid seeds are paving the ways to food security in a climate changing world. Supporting farmers to modernize food production for domestic needs will also be critical.
My two-cents: Gender equality: women are 50% of the global population, and the same split in most countries. This means that nearly half of the population is unable to help build their families, communities, countries. Is sustainable development really a glass half full/glass half empty coin toss? Food security: domestic food security should be a priority for every country (and especially African countries), clearly it hasn’t been. Surely there was logic to why it is SDG 2: No Hunger. Hopefully, all national leaders now recognize the importance of food security (sadly, it took a crisis).
Patagonia, the global outdoor clothing company, directs all profits to fighting climate change and helping our Earth. In the words of the owner, Yvon Chouinard, “Earth is now our only shareholder.”
An outdoor enthusiast, the founder built one of the world’s leading sportswear brands. With his family and a team of team of lawyers, they created a structure that allows for Patagonia to continue operating as a company, the money Patagonia makes – after reinvesting in the business, will all go to fighting and solving the global environmental crisis. Patagonia’s value from nature (their sportswear brand) will now be reinvested into nature’s value.
Patagonia has been a global sustainability leader for decades, and once again show us what vision in leadership looks like.
My two cents: I found this inspiring – so I put it here. Who knows, a family business, an entrepreneur, a shareholder, an investor, an individual reader might find this inspiring too.
AFRICA: Africa’s Youth Speak
The African Youth Survey 2022, shares very interesting and cautionary insights from our youth (18-24 years) across 15 countries. Respondents were also 50:50 gender ratio, 40% were students and 44% had completed secondary education. This is 2nd annual report produced by South Africa’s Ichikowitz Family Foundation. Here are the key insights from the report:
- (less) Optimism – as the year before, Africa’s youth remain optimistic, but only 30% think their own country is on track, and nearly half feel negative and uncertain about the future.
- C-19 – this is the generation most impact by the Pandemic! Majority appreciated their national responses to the Pandemic, but they hesitate to take the vaccine due to misinformation that prevails among them.
- Environment – this is a key concern and 80% of youth are looking to their governments to take action on climate change, reducing emissions and greener energy. Also, 1/3 of youth struggle to have access to water daily, and spend 40% of their income on clean water.
- Media & Connectivity – majority find the price of data too high. Youth trust BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera for international news, and Facebook is the least trusted channel.
- Employment – creating jobs and opportunities are their top concern, and youth want their governments to make this a top priority too i.e. creating new, well-paying jobs). Youth also believe land ownership is key to their financial wellbeing.
- International Relations – generally, foreign influence is seen as positive, but neo-colonialism and foreign ownership of natural resources is a concern as foreign powers are seen as key driver of negative change on the continent. From a national perspective, youth trust religious leaders more than their national leaders, despite national leaders being the key driver of positive change. Nearly all youth (70%) believe politicians deliberately share fake news.
- Equality – youth believe in equality, but nearly 50% of youth have experienced discrimination and only half believe their national laws treat everyone equally.
- Security & Stability – terrorism is a big concern, with about 50% of youth having their daily lives impacted by terrorism, insurgency and conflicts. Youth are dissatisfied with their governments efforts to maintain peace and stability.
- Personal Ambition – despite the challenges, young people know what they want to do, and believe their lives will be better than their parents. They also plan to have families and get married, but much later than their parents. 50% will likely consider emigrating to another country in the next 3 years – with South Africa as the preferred African option.
My two-cents: It take a community/village to raise a child. Half of our youth are impacted by conflict, 60% don’t have daily access to water, half want to leave their countries soon. What is a country/nation, a community for – if the next generation don’t want to be there? We have A LOT to do to give the next generation better than this.
UN Global Compact with partners African Union, UNDP Africa, UN Economic Commission Africa, United Nations, launched the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) bringing together leaders (business, political, cultural) to advance sustainable business and economic development for Africa and Africans. This initiative also prioritises Africans taking the global stage to own their continent’s challenges, solutions, and to tell Africa’s story on Africa’s terms. GABI launched at a side-event of the UN General Assembly programme, with an impressive contingent of African leaders from the continent and diaspora. For the first time ever, the African Union flag was raised in New York City.
My two-cents: ‘You have the key now; you choose when the lock is turned.’ (Woman King, 2022).
H.E. President Ruto gave his 1st address as President at the UN General Assembly recently.
Here are some highlights from his address, which aimed to emphasize his overarching call for urgent action to address humanity’s wellbeing, which is under grave threat. The President:
- Called out the rising wave of exclusion nationalism that revealed its global face during the Pandemic. As a result, the Global South new advocates for democratization of global governance and multilateralism to be inclusive and work for all. There must be most seats at the global governance and multilateral tables for them to be really global (which they are not today).
- Urged UN members to build back better from the bottom up to bring the marginalized working majority into the economic mainstream, mainstreaming the ingenuity, resilience and vibrancy of those who hustle.
- Reminded leaders that Climate Change’s impact were already having consequences e.g. in Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. New paradigms of multilateralism including financial support, climate adaptation technologies sharing, land restoration are need now. He also stressed his priority to modernize Kenya’s agriculture.
- He asked for greater global partnership to strengthen ICT infrastructure in developing countries, increase digital access and bridge the divide between the global south and the world.
- Challenged global leaders to keep their climate financing commitments as the world heads to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) 27 in Egypt, November 2022.
- Joined other leaders in asking the World Bank, IMF and other lenders to extend pandemic-related debt relief and to the G20 countries to suspend or reschedule debt repayments by middle income countries.
- Raised issue with the lack of reform and inclusivity of the UN Security Council, which to date, does not include global representation. (Permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
- Reiterated his commitment to a World Health Organisation (WHO) legally binding international instrument to anchor global solidarity and promote equity. The failure of multilateralism in crisis (the Pandemic) relegated Africans to outside the circles of moral consideration, which is no longer acceptable.
My two-cents: Perhaps the fog is finally lifting, and the 85% global majority’s leaders (developing countries) are remembering what it means to be the majority…other Presidents shared similar views at this meeting. However, as always, actions speak louder than words (kusema na kutenda).