Sanitation and hygiene are very much related to poverty, illiteracy, use and abuse of natural resources in particular water resources. Poor sanitation and hygiene have major negative impacts on public health with serious feedback effects on productivity in all sectors and levels in the society. To enhance the socio-economic developments and achieve acceptable and sustainable levels, e.g. in Africa and Asia, organized, coordinated and regular efforts are needed to improve the situation in these regions. It is not a matter of individual responsibility only since children, students and labor are continuously interacting with each other in various daily life activities where common facilities and resources are usually shared. Access to organized forms information packages, coaching, training and demonstrations for raising public awareness among communities, stakeholder’s activities, organizations and institutes are IMPERATIVE.
Professor Anders Wörman is the Head of division for Resources, Energy and Infrastructure, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (https://www.kth.se/profile/worman).
His research interest spans over wide-range of trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial areas in engineering sciences and technology within water resources, hydrology and environmental hydraulics. Ongoing research are due to water and energy availability in terrestrial hydrology, effects of climate fluctuations and landscape changes on runoff, hydropower regulation, extreme flows in rivers and safety of embankment dams. His skill and expertise include: environmental impact assessment; water quality; water resources management; engineering, applied and computational mathematics; hydrological modeling; rivers; civil engineering, hydrologic and water resource modelling and simulation; water balance; waterfall runoff modelling; aquatic eco-systems; surface water geo-statistics; contaminant transport; groundwater penetration; radar and climate change impacts.
Professor Wörman was co-founder and the first manager of the undergraduate educational programme for Environmental and Aquatic Engineering at Uppsala Univ. before being chair prof. at KTH. KTH has dedicated research programmes in Applied Sustainability. One of such programmes is oriented towards finding customized solutions to develope sustainable and resilient technical applications that are climatically and environmentally suited for Africa (https://www.kth.se/en/om/internationellt/projekt/kth-in-africa/africa-1.619441). It is interesting to mention that the world longest river, the Nile, spans over large catchment areas that are located in different climatic/weather (spatio-temporal variability in temperature and precipitation) zones (http://atlas.nilebasin.org/treatise/nile-basin-climate-zones/). These special features of the Nile call for technologies that can cope with climate-environment changes of both natural and man-made origins. Combination of natural and man-made climate changes will certainly induce severe constraints and limitations on what, why and how ‘Water, Energy and Natural Resources (fossil and mineral deposits, eco-systems and biodiversity)’ Nexus need to be carefully accessed on long-term and large-scale bases. In this context, Prof. Wörman has trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial knowledge suited to handle the complex, inextricable and multi-layered interactions within and between Water, Energy and Natural Resource Systems. These interactions are imperative to understand of coherent and resilient coupling with the Socio-Economic-Environment ‘SEE’ aspects in communities living in river-catchment systems in Africa. These issues are of special interest as river-systems are the dominant landscape units with huge importance for preservation and protection of renewable and fossil resources.
In a series of posts we will explore why the 21st century will be prosperous for Africa. Indeed, there are various reasons to predict why Africa will continue to shine more and more though the threats that climate change, including global warming, will hit Africa more than other continents (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_in_Africa). Naturally there are other threats that so far hindered Africa from faster developments as compared to the rest of the world, specially that the history of Africa is very much different. Here is a list of key factors, among others, about the ongoing tectonic changes and drivers that will bring a lot of positive socio-economic impacts in Africa.
– African identity, slavery and colonialism distorted her identity and disoriented her values. However, Africa was not the only continent that suffered colonization. The concept of African identity has changed are still changing relatively fast specially with the growing restrictions in migration.
– African independence, decolonization and transition to independence characterized the past century and national identities in many parts of Africa are gradually emerging.
– Large-scale infra-structures, there are mega projects taking place in Africa (the case of Egypt participation in partnership for goals, Goal 17 of UN-SDGs) such as developing its transport systems to connect the continent from the very north in e.g. Egypt to its very south, South Africa, also from the west to the east (https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/77914/Egypt-launches-32-projects-in-Africa-in-1-year-report). One example is the enormous use of smart phones technology in trade, business and finance.
– Coupling rural to urban regions, this among key and important issues in the development of Africa as 70% of African are living in rural Africa and producing 70-80% of agricultural outputs.,
– African Union, AU is a continental body of the 55 member states that make up the African Continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).
– Human resources, population growth and youth, towards 2100 the population of Africa will peak to about 40% of the world population with very high percentage of youth.
– Natural resources Africa is abundant with natural resources including diamonds. gold, oil, natural gas, uranium, copper, platinum, cobalt, iron, bauxite and cocoa beans. This is of course in addition to its amazing biodiversity.
– Generation shift, new generations and leaders are currently shaping and reshaping Africa, combating corruption, enhance good governance and transparency and taking advantage of modern technologies, e.g. ICT, IOT, crowdfunding, protection of natural resources, also in the energy, agriculture, farming, tourism and other sectors.
– Security, many African countries are becoming more aware about the improvement of national integrity and internal security and safety of population specially that Africa has a complex diversity of ethnic groups. Remarkable developments in safety in Africa took place and still the focus of the African countries.
– Biggest market in the world, the needs of Africa will make it one of the biggest market in the 21st century. There is diversification and expansion the economy and trade both internally and with the rest of the world including Europe and Asia. This will generate tectonic changes in international trade, business, transport and mobility in labor and services.
– Global investments. Based on data through 2017, France is the largest investor in Africa, although its stock of investment has remained largely unchanged since 2013, followed by the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. Geographically Europe and Asia can be linked through North Africa and the GCC countries.
– UN-SDGs the world has created a global agenda for promoting and implementing sustainability which Africa will benefit considerably from it. UN-SDGs and involved targets for developments are key issues that are shaping policies and strategies to cope with poverty, hunger, gender, inequalities, education quality, health, water and sanitation, energy, strong institutions, life quality, biodiversity, ……. etc.
Though many journeys and expeditions were done to discover the secrets of the Nile, very few of them, if any at all, touched upon the diversity of life, traditions and cultures of the Nile people. The Nile people have deep rooted love and worship for the Nile and its waters for thousand of years. The Nile and its waters meant, still mean and will continue to do so for generations. The life of the Nile people is as complex as evolution and history of the Nile itself. In this context, the socio-economic performance of the people of the Nile is very central and crucial for finding sustainable and peaceful ways to share such magnificent gift of nature. These indeed, are parts of wicked conflicts of how to put such enormous diversity in political agreements for lasting harmony in the Nile Basin as a whole. This is also the case of the rest of Africa as rivers and their catchments are basic landscape units of existential importance for the livelihood of the African population. However, vast regions of Africa don’t enjoy surface water resource or rain and other alternatives are imperative such as groundwater, desalination and water reuse. In most cases we need to think in 3D-solutions that couple surface water with groundwater and also to understand the long-term consequences of water production, use and consumption on the landscape level on longterm and large-scale levels. This can be simple to say if such resources were infinite, however water scarcity in Africa is the highest in the world yet major threats are emerging due to climate change, growing population, increasing diversification in economy, acceleration of urbanisation and industrial activities with all consequences of growing waste and pollution. The search for how such transboundary solutions of the water resources to be shared is a major political issue. All of this come in the time of today’s very rapid and fast growing ’diversification’ of the socio-economic-environment conditions needed for the ongoing transformation to sustainable societies.
Joanna Lumley’s journey, in search for the very source of the Nile, by being the longest river in the world, comes with very interesting introduction on the cultural diversity of the life and livelihood of the population in the Nile Basin. Among the amazing issues is the longstanding socio-economic diversity that shaped the life in the Nile Basin for thousands of years ranging from e.g. evolution of tourism; preparation for marriage; social gathering and social therapy ‘Soffi’; beauty treatment ‘Dukhan دخان’ (form of SPA) of body, skin and smell; sports in rural areas; local food and drinks; coutry-side work and services. Traveling, for example, comes with major challenges because of the unique landscape in the African canyons, river-catchment and forests. Respect and appreciation of cultures is the secret of not only social success but more importantly to bring about harmony and resilience in the complex social mosaic that requires modern understanding of ‘what, how and why’ issues in modern sustainability.
Just to give few examples is how to live and travel in one of Africa’s largest canyons of the Blue Nile, 250 miles long. Also, how to manage the 60 rivers that drain rainwater to Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The country with 4/5 of the african mountains and Africa’s oldest cultures that is most diverse with great influences from ancient Egypt and Arabia.
One of the great future challenge of the 21st century is how to deal with the growing scarcity of Africa’s white gold ‘water’ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_scarcity_in_Africa As of 2006). One third of all African nations suffers from clean water scarcity and Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of water-stressed countries of any other place on the planet. It is estimated that by 2030 that 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will be living in areas of high water stress, which will likely displace anywhere between 24 million and 700 million people as conditions become increasingly unlivable.
Sustain-Earth.Com will work on mobilizing Human Resources in Africa for empowering the youth and students for scaling up Science, Technology and Innovation ‘STI’ to promote the UN-SDGs. We are delighted to have Professor Amidu Olalekan Mustapha from University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria to work on these issues.
Furthermore, the necessary instruments and tools will be developed and implemented for active engagement of the higher education, universities and research institutions in Africa to couple ‘STI’ to society, population and market needs. University graduates, early-stage researchers and professionals (according to scientific and technical merits) through dedicated mentoring programmes will act as catalysts in creating the necessary multi-layered links with relevant stakeholders in all sectors and on all levels. The diverse, rich and wide-range of higher education and research programmes in Africa will provide the necessary Human Resources ‘HR’. This will involve raising the public awareness among the involved stakeholders. A data-base will be created to define, collect and compile the expertise, professional and the targeted stakeholders.
The involvement of high-level interactions with sectors and organisations as was the case in previous trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial activities, e.g. IRPA-Nairobi Conference in 2010 (http://www.iur-uir.org/en/archives/conferences/id-44-afrirpa2010-third-african-irpa-regional-congress) will be assessed. This will be part of building on previous experiences and successes of already existing networking infra-structures. However, this will still require major challenges but suitable grounds will be found for what and how to do. According to Professor Amidu Mustapha there are a number of existing initiatives and platforms that we can link up with, e.g. both in Nigeria and Kenya. The members of the existing groups may also have other goals in addition, but we can benefit mutually in the common areas of environmental sustainability and knowledge development especially among youths.
A starting point will also involve reshaping and tuning two previously given courses at Uppsala university in 2018 and 2019 (http://teknat.uu.se/digitalAssets/395/c_395062-l_3-k_sustainability-in-science-and-technology.pdf; http://www.teknat.uu.se/digitalAssets/395/c_395062-l_1-k_sustainability-in-science-and-technology-2019.pdf). In these two course water, energy and natural resources nexus were detailed in order to explore what, why and how these drivers can be coupled to socio-economic-environment aspects that are necessary to help the ongoing transformation to sustainable societies. Over twenty professors and professionals were involved in conducting these courses, however there are still enormous needs to develop and extend these courses to meet the realities in many developing countries specially in Africa. This is also while considering the practical approaches that would be required in the implementation process. Particularly what regards the existing and emerging needs (UN-SDGs) in Africa for practical and appropriate policies and strategies.
Sustain-Earth.Com is introducing an ESG (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental,_social_and_corporate_governance) Fund-Raising team where Mr. Godfrey Mchunguzi Oyema, Tanzania, is excellent addition to sustain-earth.com. Mr. Godfrey Mchunguzi Oyema is a passionate and results-driven Environmentalist, Biodiversity (Wildlife) and Human Ecologist, ESG policy professional with understanding of the challenges facing biodiversity both in-situ and ex-situ conservation. His work involves analytical approaches to using observation strategies to predict and monitor behavior changes of animals in captivity and natural habitats. He has diverse and rich knowledge of managing animals in captivity using a variety of methods, as well as camera traps and behavior monitoring. His expertise is based on smooth business operations by collaborating with project partners and following projects from conceptualizing phase to completion including theory of change design, incorporation of partner needs and technical support.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) are three central factors in measuring sustainability dimensions and the societal impact of investments in companies. The social and environmental responsibility affects financial and economic performance in private and public sectors. The social capital is an important factor in establishing strong human capital and so is the case of the underlying environmental conditions of social frameworks. These are important in encouraging companies and capital markets to incorporate environmental and social challenges into their day-to-day decision-making.
ESG had also received most of the public and media attention, not least because of the growing fears concerning climate change which directed the spotlight more and more onto the corporate governance aspect of responsible investment. It brought also the focus to how the companies were managed, what the stockholder relationships were and how the employees were treated. The evidence toward a relationship between ESG issues and financial performance is becoming greater with wider recognition of the necessity of the sustainability in long-term investments. The environmental social and corporate governance are becoming increasingly important in the investment markets https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/environmental-social-and-governance-esg-criteria.asp).
Public goods are natural resource enjoyed by every person and it is impossible to prevent someone, including living organisms, consuming such good, e.g. air for breathing, water for drinking, sun and light to enjoy. Public goods are recognized as beneficial for everyone and therefore have existential values and necessities that must not be destroyed by one person or state. In this context, natural resources and the environment are global public goods that are should not be diminished, exhausted and/or degraded, e.g. a breathable atmosphere, stable climate and biodiversity. For these reasons Environmental Governance (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_governance) is also a political ecology and environmental policy concepts that advocates sustainability for management of all human activities. Governance includes government, business and civil society.
Sustain-Earth.Com will expand on ESG and its growing importance for promoting and achieving the UN-SDGs (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html).
Africa has enormous untapped resources of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, bio-energy and hydro-power (https://www.renewablesinafrica.com).
Africa has the highest incidence of food insecurity and poverty and the highest rates of population growth. Yet Africa also has the most arable land, the lowest crop yields, and by far the most plentiful land resources relative to energy demand. It is thus of interest to examine the potential of expanded modern production of renewable in Africa. Renewables in Africa are future strong enablers and drivers for sustainable developments with enormous socio-economic-environment benefits. Renewables in Africa will help to achieve its vision for Green Growth (https://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/African%20Development%20Report%202012_4.pdf). In Brazil, for example, bioenergy development have been synergistic rather than antagonistic. Realizing similar success in African countries will require clear vision, good governance, and adaptation of technologies, knowledge, and business models to myriad local circumstances. Strategies for integrated production of food crops, livestock, and renewables, e.g. bioenergy are potentially attractive and offer an alternative to an agricultural model featuring specialized land use (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337098/). If done thoughtfully, there is considerable evidence that food security and economic development in Africa can be addressed more effectively with modern bioenergy than without it. However, what regards bioenergy which is so far a major resource of energy in Africa, researchers warn about its negative climate impacts and a brake on bioenergy by 2050 is suggested. This will alleviate the extreme pressures on land in the coming 30 years and avoid the negative impacts from high carbon footprint and excessive land use biomass production from crops, trees or grasses for fuel through 2100 (https://www.google.se/amp/s/phys.org/news/2019-12-bioenergy-negative-climate-impacts.amp).
Here we illustrate an excellent example of renewables from one of the African pioneers in Geothermal power generation in East Africa and the Rift Valley (https://geology.com/articles/east-africa-rift.shtml). The geology, evolution and landscape of the Rift Valley (https://geology.com/articles/east-africa-rift.shtml) in Africa makes it a unique resource and an example of the untapped renewable energy resources. Working opportunities in the energy market in Africa would open huge employment possibilities for technical engineers, including ICT.
DM and CEO of KenGen Rebecca Miano, Kenya, gives us a glimpse on the future of Renewables in Africa (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XOreOpeqQ4o&feature=youtu.be). KenGen as a global pioneer in geothermal energy in Africa and the world, it has access also to affordable inhouse expertise to meet crises such as COVID-19. However, demand in energy for expansion and modernization of power plants are enormous and would need more and more technical skills.
Why do we need Energy? Why do we need Water? Why do we need Food? and How these three basic needs are related to the Earth’s Natural Capital Resources. For Africa where its population will peak to reach about 40% of the world population by the end of this century including housing the youngest population on planet Earth, it is IMPERATIVE to know how this wicked “Water-Energy-Food-Natural Resources” Nexus will be managed. With the huge and growing global pressure on Africa’s mineral/natural resources and with the other given needs in mind, how can we define Africa’s Livelihood on the bases of achieving the UN-SDGs?
The new dams in Africa have the potential to meet increased energy (electricity) demands. At the same time, there are strong coupling between climate and the “water, energy and food” in Africa. Also strong links with the global needs for Africa’s natural resources. On the large-scale and long-terms spatio-temporal changes, locations of the planned dams could put the security of electricity supply at risk for large parts of Africa. As the majority of planned dams are located in river basins with upstream and downstream regions that rely on similar patterns of rainfall and hence be vulnerable all together to drought and dry years. Also, subject to other extreme climate and weather threats caused by major changes in rainfall pattern such as uncontrolled flooding. These vulnerabilities could lead to electricity supply being disrupted. This is why it’s important to factor climate variability and change into dam design and management, and diversify the electricity production, to avoid over reliance on hydropower.
Hydropower relies on the flow of water to drive turbines for electricity generation. It uses natural changes in elevation or artificial storage in reservoirs to take advantage of the water level difference. Drought or successive dry years can result in not having enough water to drive the generating turbines and thus cause shortage of electricity. In countries like the US and in parts of western Europe hydropower is complimented by other power sources. This means that in times of drought other sources of power can balance the shortfall. But in countries where the energy mix is or will be dominated by hydropower as in e.g. Africa specially the sub-Saharan African countries. Without alternative power sources, the impacts of climate can cause fluctuations in hydropower and thus can disrupt electricity supply. Supply might need to be turned off either to ration dwindling water resources or because demand simply can’t be met. For example, the Nile and Zambezi, where multiple dams are planned on the same river channels and lie in the same rainfall clusters. This means that dry years will affect storage in all the dams, lessen their ability to refill fully and could create a significant challenge for the supply of hydropower. There are already examples of this happening (http://theconversation.com/new-dams-in-africa-could-add-risk-to-power-supplies-down-the-line-89789). In December 2017, for example, Malawi’s state owned electricity company saw power output plummeting after a severe drought. Malawi relies almost entirely on hydropower and during the 2015–16 El Niño event, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all experienced electricity outages due in part to reduced rainfall. Climate risks must be built into planning, this is particularly true in many of Africa’s river basins because they are highly sensitive to changes in rainfall. The increasing importance of hydropower and the potential for increasing levels of rainfall variability under climate change, underscore the need to incorporate climate risks into infrastructure planning in Africa.
There is no question the planned increase in hydroelectricity generation in Africa presents both significant opportunities and also challenges. It will assist the economic development of the continent, as greater electrification will drive industrialisation and support the creation of more secondary and tertiary industries. All these come with several socio-economic opportunities. Also, increase in water storage capacity will assist the agro-industry, by reducing its reliance on rainfed agriculture. However, an over reliance on dams could threaten food, water and energy security during times of drought, and would present challenges to a wide-range of communities that rely on the natural flow of water in rivers. Also, the boom of industrial and household activities around centralized power-stations and artificial water reservoirs can cause local and regional degradation in air and water qualities if strict rules and regulations for emissions and/or injections of pollutants are not properly put in place. These emerging threats and challenges need to be assessed with the water-energy-food nexus and life-quality in mind. If African countries seek to harness the wide benefits that their rivers provide, they must also learn from previous mistakes, minimise and mitigate the negative effects of the ongoing dam building.
The number of challenges that Africa presents in terms of energy-water-food nexus and life-quality are significant. As such nexus has also several feedback impacts on eco-system services and bio-diversity. Furthermore, the lack of adequate management of available water resources is contributing to an existing and accelerating water crisis in the African continent. Changes in climatic patterns are also expected to have impacts on crop yields, which in combination with population growth will lead to severe additional stress on water resources that otherwise would have to be dedicated to increase agricultural productivity. Under these scenarios, future water needs from the growing African energy sector may play a key role when combined with changes in water availablity and the future increasing demands from agriculture. A proper analysis of the water requirements of the African energy sector is important for an effective future planning and management of water, energy and food resources in Africa.
This said, an important and interesting issue is the impacts of water needs for energy use and production on the natural water cycle on local and regional scales in Africa, also probably on the global scale because of evaporation from an increasing number of artificial reservoirs behind the planned hydropower dams in the arid and semi-arid regions in Africa.
At this stage we give only one example on the ongoing plans in Ethiopia for hydropower production. However, sustain-earth.com will continue in detailing the what, why and how issues in the “water-energy-food nexus” in Africa. Follow the story here (https://youtu.be/NbKoXlYUNY0).
Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is Biodiversity scientist, Entrepreneur, Author and the 6th President Republic of Mauritius. She has joined the Editorial Board of Sustain-Earth.Com.
It is a great honor to have Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim on the Editorial Board of Sustain-Earth.Com. She has been the Managing Director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation, also Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. She has served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor (2004- 2010). She also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research (1995-1997). She was elected and served as Chairperson of the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa.
As a Founding Member of the Pan African Association of African Medicinal Plants, she co-authored the first ever African Herbal Pharmacopoeia, authored and co-edited 30 books, several book chapters and scientific articles in the field of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. She has lectured extensively across the world; is a Member of the Editorial Boards of major journals, has served on Technical and national committees in various capacities. Elected Fellow of several academies and societies, Ms Gurib-Fakim received several international prizes including the 2007 l’Oreal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science, the African Union Commission Award for Women in Science, 2009.
The 6th President and the First Female President of the Republic of Mauritius and served in that capacity during June 2015-March 2018. She was elevated to the Order of GCSK by the Government of Mauritius, and received the Legion d’Honneur from the Government of France in 2016. In 2017, she received both the lifelong achievement award of the United States Pharmacopoeia-CePat Award and the American Botanical Council Norman Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award. In 2018, she received the Order of St George at the Semperopernball, Dresden, Germany. In June 2016, she was in the Forbes List for the 100 ‘Most Powerful women in the world’ and 1st among the Top 100 Women in Africa Forbes List 2017, 2019. She is honoured as one of Foreign Policy’s 2015 Global Thinkers.
More about Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim can be found in Wikipedia (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ameenah_Gurib); Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/profile/ameenah-gurib-fakim/); Council of Women World Leaders (http://www.councilwomenworldleaders.org/ameenah-gurib-fakim.html); Linkedin (https://mu.linkedin.com/in/aguribfakim).
Scaling up science and technology to promote and implement the UN-SDGs is crucial for achieving sustainability in Africa and bringing prosperity to future generation. In this context coupling science and technology and integrating them in the socio-economic-environment pillars of society is imperative. We invite you here to see the progress, challenges and opportunities for cross-sector innovations toward gender parity, among others, in leadership in Africa and globally. https://youtu.be/sx8d_Xkt4xY
Sustain-Earth.Com is tuning its activities towards building sustainable communities in Africa. Instruments and tools will be gradually imbedded and integrated to facilitate more effective cross-boundary collaboration both vertically and horizontally, e.g. through ‘top-bottom’ and ‘bottom-top’ interactions for interactive and coherent participation of all stakeholders in different sectors and on all levels. This is needed to promote and implement the UN-SDGs as they give guideline of what is needed to achieve prosperity. Three main drivers are essential in this respect Water, Energy and Natural Resources. However, ‘What, Why and How’ to produce, use and consume ‘Water, Energy and Natural Resources’ for Sustainable Development need responsible and resilient managent in all sectors individually and collectively. Scaling-up ‘Science, Technology and Innovation’ and their effective, integrated and coherent coupling to society, population and market needs is imperative in this context.
Africa’s population is the youngest in the world and is growing very fast. Yet future challenges to cope with the degradation in climate, environment and biodiversity are diverse, complex and multi-layered. In this context, AGRICULTUREfor example, needs Water, Energy and Natural Resources to promote and accelerate food security, make Africa a net exporter of food and to add value to its agricultural products and for regional integration. To achieve this the agricultural sector needs: to increase its production and productivity; improve the functioning of national and regional agricultural markets; foster investment and entrepreneurship in agrifood value chains; foster access to food and improved nutrition; and also to improve management of the water, energy natural resources.
More about these issues in the following report (2013africanagricultures.pdf).
While ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ in singular terms are composed of unique individuals from all walks of life, we still seek and need common solutions in spite of the fact that the modern political party systems are product of socio-economic conflicts of the last few centuries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left%E2%80%93right_political_spectrum). Globalisation, by being affected by internetisation, is strongly shaping and reshaping democracies around the world. More and more intensive and complex engagement of world population, i.e. individuals of “WE THE PEOPLE”, is taking place. So, the number of solutions to achieve peace, security and prosperity are becoming endless especially if sustainability, with its ‘socio-economic-environment’ pillars, is to be seriously and actively taken in consideration. However, from the Science and Technology viewpoint a problem is a solution that is not yet found’ (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288957; https://www.itseducation.asia/article/finding-possible-solutions; https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/look-for-the-solution-within-the-problem.html; https://www.aicpa-cima.com/news/the-problem-is-the-solution.html). We are desperately seeking new solutions and this remains to be the main concern shaping this century though the problems, barriers and challenges in our modern societies are becoming multilayered in nature, complexity and even diversity. It is not straightforward to tune individuals and their political structures to the same goals, i.e. to redefine what is meant by ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ in global context. It is a spatio-temporal dynamic process coherent with an ever ongoing progress in the development of human evolution on planet Earth.
This said, the COVID-19 crisis by being part of a complex health system on planet Earth demonstrates clearly the paradox in how to define ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ from viewpoint of individuals and communities, i.e. in ‘bottom-top’ models on the one-hand; and in political structures and governmental institutions, i.e. in ‘top-bottom’ models on the other-hand. Considering the global geographical data of COVID-19 and the associated antibody tests by today (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) we may conclude that the so-called herd immunity, population immunity, or social immunity hasn’t been achieved yet as the time elapsed since the breakdown of the novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19 pandemic’ is yet very short. Herd immunity (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious diseases that occurs when a large percentage of a population become immune to an infection. Generally, it can be achieved through previous infections thus providing a protection for individuals not yet immune. As COVID-19 is resulting from a new virus it will take longtime to achieve herd immunity and unless we keep doing at least what we are doing now we could face severe consequences. According to WHO, we are currently taking huge and yet unknown risks by reopening our economies. The spread of COVID-19 is refuelling itself and accelerating in the same way as it started back in China by the end of 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/19/who-says-coronavirus-enters-new-and-dangerous-phase-as-daily-cases-hits-record.html). Herd immunity can be also achieved through vaccination which in the case of COVID-19 is not yet available and may take up to several years for worldwide public use. However, there is some light at horizon as we have new reasonable explanations about the contradictions in global infection and death rates around the world. We have delayed effects in the global immunity that resulted from BCG vaccination which has been introduced and still being used in the developing countries. This is apparent from the strong correlation of reduced infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 in the developing countries. Excluding the countries with low-income levels that have few number of cases of COVID-19 per million inhabitants, i.e. 0.32± 0.09, because of risks for biases from improper reporting. The middle high and high-income countries with current universal BCG policy (55 countries) the same value of COVID-19 is 59.54± 23.29 (mean±s.e.m) cases per million inhabitants, to be compared with middle high and high income countries that never had a universal BCG policy (5 countries) with about 4 times the number of cases per million inhabitants, with 264.90± 134.88. This difference between countries is significant (p=0.0064, Wilcoxon rank sum test), suggesting that broad BCG vaccination along with other measures could slow the spread of COVID-19 (https://www.dw.com/en/can-a-tuberculosis-vaccine-help-combat-covid-19/a-53388220). The epidemiological evidence, from this German-study, indicates that differences in morbidity and mortality produced by COVID-19 across countries might be partially explained by a country’s BCG vaccination policy. Italy, for example, with very high COVID-19 mortality never implemented universal BCG vaccination. Japan with low COVID-19 mortality rate despite not implementing the most strict forms of social isolation have been implementing BCG vaccination since 1947. Iran that is heavily hit by COVID-19, started its universal BCG vaccination policy only in 1984 thus leaving anybody over 36 years old unprotected. China despite having a universal BCG policy since the 1950’s, its tuberculosis prevention and treatment agencies were disbanded and weakened during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This, according to this German study, could have created (https://www.dw.com/en/can-a-tuberculosis-vaccine-help-combat-covid-19/a-53388220) a pool of potential hosts that affected by and spread COVID-19. However, the situation in China, assuming COVID-19 data from China are correct, now seems to have improved relatively fast. So the present global COVID-19 data suggest that BCG vaccination seem to significantly reduce mortality associated with COVID-19. The earlier that a country established a BCG vaccination policy, the stronger the reduction in number of deaths per million inhabitants, consistent with the idea that protecting the elderly population might be crucial in reducing mortality. Similar studies have been performed around the world, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia (MCRI) organized a trial to investigate whether the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine known as the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) might offer protection against COVID-19 (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-could-tb-vaccine-offer-protection). Earlier work has shown that it might reduce the risk of some respiratory infections that are entirely unrelated to TB (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31025-4/fulltext). In this publication it is indicated that in addition to the specific effect against tuberculosis, the BCG vaccine has beneficial nonspecific (off-target) effects on the immune system that protect against a wide range of other infections and are used routinely to e.g. treat bladder cancer. This led to the suggestion that vaccination with BCG might have a role in protecting health-care workers and other vulnerable individuals against severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Also in a study carried out in France and The Netherland (https://www.france24.com/en/20200403-could-tb-vaccine-protect-medics-from-covid-19) it is stated that though BCG vaccine does not directly protect against the coronavirus, it can provide a boost to the immune system which may lead to improved protection and a milder infection. So, the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines has well and truly begun, but amid this research excitement another, rarely talked about vaccine is suddenly getting a lot of attention (https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/can-bcg-vaccine-protect-against-covid-19). During its long existence, an array of evidence has emerged suggesting that BCG vaccine may also offer beneficial off-target effects, providing some protection against not just some forms of TB but other diseases as well as it appears to help boost the immune system.
So, putting COVID-19 in a global historical perspective what regards the evolution of pandemics and diseases that threatened humanity reveals and uncover many important and strategic issues (https://www.converse.edu/story/reflections-on-current-past-pandemics/; https://www.historyassociates.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-in-historical-perspective/; https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/spanish-flu-pandemic-and-mental-health-historical-perspective). Until around 1970, historical research about pandemics had been virtually non-existent. Some novels and popular histories appeared over the decades, but it was Alfred Crosby’s 1976 book Epidemic and Peace, 1918 (reissued in 1989 under the title America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918) that paved the way for international research about the subject. One of the book’s major achievements was to draw attention to the fact that the pandemic quickly disappeared as a topic of public conversation soon after it was over, ignored by periodicals and textbooks for decades. To many historians, this collective silence is as much a part of the pandemic’s story as the course of the disease itself. The first outbreak of global diseases occurred from 1347 to 1351, killed up to 50% of the Europe’s population (https://www.converse.edu/story/reflections-on-current-past-pandemics/). King Edward III of England ordered English ports to be closed before the plague reached England late in the summer of 1348. The best advice, that remains to be true until today, anyone could offer was to flee, in essence a form of social distancing. As in this case distancing all the population of England by closing its borders. A more recent pandemic, the influenza of 1918-1919 also has even more lessons for us to learn (https://www.historyassociates.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-in-historical-perspective/). The 1918 influenza pandemic occurred in a world devoid of viral vaccines, relatively minimal medical knowledge, medical infrastructure, and limited global communications. Most important, a century ago, medical professionals didn’t categorize the flu as a viral infection and there were no efficient, precise ways of diagnosing and documenting the influenza. There were neither a World Health Organization for global coordination of health issues nor scientific know-how to allow for isolation of viruses and the generation of quick effective antiviral tests. The origin of the 1918-1919 disease is still undetermined, it seemed to simultaneously appear in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Usually, influenza affects the young and the elderly, described as a ‘U’. The outbreak of 1918-1919 described as a ‘W’ shape as young, elderly and many in the twenties and thirties were affected too. Over 500 million people were infected worldwide, i.e. one-third of world’s population at that time. Between 50 and 100 million people died worldwide and 675,000 people in the USA. The period 1918-1919 overlapped with WW-I, so in addition to the huge lack of understanding of infectious diseases and medical responses, specially to civilians, the WW-I itself put more constraints on medical reserves and full implementation of social distancing both in Europe and the USA. Both Europe USA and other countries were placing most of their attention and support to the war. In the USA for example, as the flu found a foothold, Philadelphia’s health commissioner ignored warnings from medical experts and proceeded with a planned parade to support the war effort. While St. Louis issued warnings almost immediately when the first cases appeared and its health commissioner promptly banned public gatherings exceeding twenty people, closed schools, theaters, churches, and other places for several weeks. The death rate in St. Louis amounted to less than half, per capita, of that in Philadelphia. Flattening the Curve by social distancing was already used in 1918 though other cities around the world still went business-as-usual in running civil and public sevices, and businesses promoting the war.
The BCG vaccine (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BCG_vaccine) first became available in 1921 and it appears on the World Health Organization (WHO) List of Essential Medicines. More than 100 million babies globally receive the BCG vaccination each year. Aside from TB, the BCG vaccine also protects against other conditions that involve mycobacterium (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium) including leprosy. Scientists produce the vaccine using live Mycobacterium bovis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_bovis) taken from bovines, which they have attenuated to reduce their virility. Although no studies, to date, have investigated the BCG vaccine’s influence over SARS-CoV-2, the scientists hope that the story might be similar. If the BCG vaccine can bolster and strengthen the immune system, it might reduce the infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 or lessen the severity of COVID-19 (http://theconversation.com/could-bcg-a-100-year-old-vaccine-for-tuberculosis-protect-against-coronavirus-138006). This is actually an important finding of the careful studies and examination of the global spatio-temporal data of COVID-19. So, without the collaboration of world health institutions, collation, coordination and compilation it would have been impossible to arrive to such achievement which is an essential conclusion for the advancement in science and technology. This is a reminder of the strategic importance of Goal 17 of the UN-SDGs “Goal 17 seeks to strengthen global partnership to support and achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda to bring together national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and other actors”. Again the Goal 17 itself can’t be achieved without promoting and implementing a web of many other underlying infra-structures that are very-well defined in the UN-SDGs. Such underlying infra-structures allow stronger coupling of the citizens and communities to their multi-layered governmental and institutional bodies and organizations on all levels and scales. It is a matter of improving and strengthening vertical and horizontal communications in ‘botton-top models’. ‘Top-bottom models’ are not as effective and efficient in the developing and less-favored countries, it can be also the case in some developed countries. This is how to arrive to the proper operational definition of “WE THE PEOPLE”, i.e. empowering the citizens to enhance their performance in the very basic three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. A global transformational process where the responsibility is shifted more and more towards citizens to achieve knowledge-based democracy of engaged and well-informed citizens.
“Globalisation” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimensions_of_globalization) means different things to different people, and the same applies to “Democracy” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy). Globalisation has benefits, challenges e.g. risks and contradictions (https://www.chathamhouse.org/london-conference-2015/background-papers/overcoming-risks-and-contradictions-globalization; https://velocityglobal.com/blog/globalization-benefits-and-challenges/; https://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/speeches/2017/dud170511) with tectonic transformation and challenges associated with it. It has Pros And Cons for the poor and the rich countries in terms of access of small businesses, multi-nationals and working people to free markets. Not all barriers in globalisation, that hider the promotion and implementation of the UN-SDGs, can be eliminated overnight and risks still remain for social injustice, abuse of human rights, unfair working conditions, mismanagement of natural resources, and ecological damage, violation of intellectual properties, spread of infections and diseases, human trafficking and degradation of social welfare in general (https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/05/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-globalization/amp/). We have also to take in consideration the existing illiteracy, corruption and misconduct in developing countries. Also, the remains of destructive impacts in the socio-economic fabrics that resulted from centuries of colonisation and slave-handel.
Both democracy and globalisation are dynamic in evolution and depends on political structures around the world. The shift from agricultural and rural societies to industrial and urban ones has forced new challenges that resulted in economic development but also economic competition. Advances in science and technological were major drivers that resulted in screwed shifts and systematic changes with trends in more and more differentiated, polarised and degenerated globalisation and democracies (https://ged-project.de/globalization/what-are-the-drivers-behind-economic-globalization/) in favour of trade and economic structures as defined and driven by growth and linear economies. Growth and linear economies, as consequences of screwed globalisation and democracies, are in flavour of developed countries that have easy and prompt access to science and technology on all aspects (https://ourworldindata.org/is-globalization-an-engine-of-economic-development; https://www.salon.com/2014/08/02/how_the_middle_class_got_screwed_college_costs_globalization_and_our_new_insecurity_economy/). Currently, globalisation is not an accurate descriptor of the 21st century as there has been tectonic and huge internet-driven transformational changes sweeping in all public and private sectors, trade and businesses. Yet, the international economic landscape is not tuned to incorporate within it the UN-SDGs. It is unfortunate that the UN-SDGs are degraded and reduced to only one goal, i.e. Goal 13: The Climate Action. Though Climate Action is important in itself, the same can be said for all goals as evident from COVID-19. The term internetisation is believed to be a replacement for the concept of globalisation as time and geography are irrelevant (https://www.google.se/amp/s/theconversation.com/amp/internetization-a-new-word-for-our-global-economy-88013). Internetisation is the contemporary face of globalization as it includes all modern tools of electronic globalisation and embraces the digital connectivity and empowerment of the internet and the World Wide Web. Globalisation of knowledge, including science and technology, and the associated impacts on industrialisation and economy, has benefitted, almost entirely the developed countries, through the considerable brain-drain from the developing countries either actively or passively. In passive terms, all researchers around the world are forced to publish in international journals that either controlled by the science and technology policies serving mainly growth and linear economies or fit in the science and technology strategies defined by the developed countries.
The gradual and systematic shift from ‘globalisation’ to ‘internetisation’ has also negative and positive impacts as is the case for globalisation. IOT, ICT and social media are still controlled by free market economy, i.e. linear and growth economy. This evolution has affected the way individuals define ‘WE THE PEOPLE’, i.e. from viewpoint of the citizen which is not coherent with how the political structures define it. We are not any longer living in isolated bubbles. Here are some literature that explain how countries, citizens and businesses around the world are becoming more interconnected, as various drivers such as technology, transportation/travel, social media, and global finance make it easier for goods, services, ideas, innovation and people to move freely across traditional and classic borders and boundaries (https://courses.lumenlearning.com/marketing-spring2016/chapter/reading-globalization-benefits-and-challenges/). These changes underline the ongoing transformation from ‘slow globalisation’ to more and more ‘fast globalisation’, i.e. ‘internetisation’. In any case, the major impacts on businesses that provide an abundance of worldwide benefits comes with major challenges for individuals, stakeholders and governments (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.globalization-partners.com/blog/benefits-and-challenges-of-globalization/amp/; https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/spero.htm). As globalisation or ‘internetisation’ can open and create new markets and technological advances with potential to empower and enrich everyone, so far it has created global unsustainable ‘socio-economic-environment’ inequalities. So, more and more political challenges have emerged that urge us, our governments, institutions and multilateral policy-makers to overcome the associated risks and contradictions. As companies, and stakeholders alike, start to grow and expand they face new difficulties to navigate and reach their global expansion goals and overcome competition barriers, decentralisation of industires, protectionism and cultural differences around the world. However, it is time to end the profit-at-all-costs mentality, because if we don’t build an economic future within a sustainable framework in which we are respectful of our planetary boundaries, and the need to change our energy, use of natural resources and technology systems, then we will not have a living planet for human beings. It is also, very important for countries to recognize there are essential services that need to be provided in terms of healthcare, education, good governance and a social safety that cannot be compromised on. The volume of needs that we have today made it clear that global cooperation is imperative and abundantly clear.