In December, the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) in Accra, Ghana, held an international conference on “Sustainable Development of Natural Resources in Africa”. The three-day conference, on 5–7 December 2011, was attended by representatives from government ministries, departments and agencies in Ghana; the diplomatic community; UNU staff worldwide; the donor community; and academics from various universities across the world.
The event formed part of activities held to mark the 25th anniversary of UNU-INRA, which was established in 1986 with a mission to support the building of African capacity by strengthening national institutions to promote sustainable use of the continent’s natural resources for development. UNU-INRA’s research and training activities are targeted at ensuring that African scientists, technologists and institutions acquire capabilities to generate, adapt, and apply knowledge and technology to promote more efficient utilization of natural resources for self-reliant development and, thus, contribute to eradicating rural poverty and improving food security.
UNU Rector Konrad Osterwalder congratulated UNU-INRA for organizing a successful conference. He encouraged participants to actively think of how to support the institute, its operating units throughout Africa (in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Senegal and Zambia) , and its twinning partner (UNU-ISP) in Tokyo.
The representative of the Ghana Minister of Education urged participants to be bold, candid and objective in their assessment and discussions on sustainable development issues facing Africa: “This will help the institute to learn from its successes and failures over the past 25 years as it thinks of delivering science-based knowledge to help the continent manage its richly endowed natural resources.”
The UNU-INRA “silver jubilee” conference created a platform for dialogue amongst academics and policymakers on charting a new course for future research, training and capacity development in Africa. It also served to mobilize African perspectives on the development of natural resources in the lead-up to the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in June 2012.
Thirty-two papers summarizing research findings were presented by academics and policymakers from across the world during the three-day conference.