Background note: Transformative Infrastructure for sustainability transition in Africa

Author(s): Swilling, M., Belay, DM.
Link to CST author(s): Prof. Desta Belay, Prof. Mark Swilling
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This is the background note on this book project.

It has been more than 25 years since the terms ‘sustainable development’ and ‘sustainability’ rose to the prominence in international development discourse. The relative vagueness of the concept coupled with its increasing importance in national and international policies led to major institutional competition for influence over our future by capturing its interpretation from specific institutional interest and perspective.

Our knowledge and understanding about the natural environment and its interaction with our socio-economic systems has significantly expanded. Moreover, numerous communities and businesses have been able to develop thousands of innovative and creative solutions that help to minimize some of the adverse impacts at the local level.  Looking at all the basic socioeconomic and socio-ecological indicators both at the global and regional level, one can conclude that we are at a stage that requires fundamental retooling of development. This is particularly of significant importance for Africa as it has a major leapfrogging opportunity towards an inclusive, low carbon, and resource efficient economies.

This Handbook, once completed, will look at the key elements of retooling that need to be considered by African countries with a focus on key socioeconomic infrastructure that will determine their future development pathways.