Talking about the importance of a sustainable future is becoming more common every day, in Africa and all over the world.
A few weeks ago, in Abu Dhabi, it was the only topic of conversation among hundreds of leaders, businessmen, heads of states, senior government officials, and many more who attended the Future Sustainability Summit.
Among the speeches, hallway conversations, and various panels, one message was dominant: Putting a sustainable future as a top priority is not an option. It is a necessity.
The first speaker was by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance of the UAE. Beyond the importance of planning of our sustainable future, Al-Nahyan argued that in order to lead themselves and the entire world to a more sustainable future, leaders must look far down the road. In fact, he said, 50 years into the future is crucial.
In an ever-changing world, with innovative technologies that are constantly changing our lives, and huge changes expected across the African continent, there will be those who argue that it is simply impossible to plan so long into the future.
The statement is so important precisely because of all those changes that are likely to disrupt Africa: the expected increase in the number of the population (expected to double to nearly 2.4 billion people), the young demographics, urbanization, advanced technologies penetrating various sectors, and much more.
Thanks to these changes, Africa is already a global leader in sustainability, with many African countries based on advanced renewable energy infrastructures, much more than Western or Far Eastern countries, whose economies are largely based on traditional, polluting energy sources. Proper long-term planning will allow Africa to leapfrog the entire world, and become a real leader in the most important area for the future of humanity.
“Tolerance is the key”
In spite of the great importance that Minister Al-Nahyan attributes to future sustainability, he also believes that this is an impossible task for one country alone.
Leading humanity towards a more sustainable and clean future requires the cooperation and full coordination of a large number of entities, from governments and government agencies, through the business sector, media organizations, and of course, the people. Everyone must join hands in a long-term plan and build establish mechanisms that will enable progress towards a sustainable future, one step at a time.
In the following speech, President Paul Kagame, said there is nothing more important than an extensive dialog, enabling each and everyone to connect and communicate, making sure that everybody is on board and committed to the process. “Leaders alone will not bring sustainable results”, he said in his keynote speech. “We need a real dialog and vast consultation. We must have all levels us fully committed to the outcome, then we achieve results”.
Global collaboration is a must
Africa, as mentioned, is at a great starting point to lead the entire world towards a more sustainable and clean future. For a global change though, cross-border collaborations and bridges are a must.
One was shown on the conference stage, when H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Mubadala Investment Company, stated: “There is no doubt that the world is facing a catastrophic challenge from climate change. As business leaders, the actions we take today will not only impact our legacy but the future of our planet. The future is unpredictable, and not everything we try will work, but we must try, as the stake is high. Abu Dhabi is committed to trying and making major bets in the future”.
The potential for smart investment and long-term planning is enormous, but the danger of not planning and investing is much higher. The responsibility now lies on the shoulders of all of us.
Events like the Abu Dhabi Conference establish optimism for a better, more sustainable future. Now, it is our mission to take concrete steps and fulfill the global vision.