World Sustainability Forum: education required for Africa’s growth

The World Sustainability Forum, which serves as a discussion portal for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, was taking place for the first time on African soil. Switzerland’s ambassador to South Africa, Helen Budliger Artieda, has challenged Africans to embrace education if the continent is to realize its full growth potential.


Speaking at the grand opening evening of the 6th World Sustainability Forum in the coastal town of Cape Town last week, Switzerland’s ambassador to South Africa, Helen Budliger Artieda, stated that the continent needed to shrug off past dilemmas and forge ahead.

According to the 2030 Development Goals for Africa, the importance of quality education is the key to guiding the continent to overcoming strains of poverty, unemployment, food and water insecurity, inequality and climate change. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly two years back.

2030 Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development mostly targets Africa. Poverty eradication is at the helm of the overreaching goals that also include economic and social development, and environmental protection. Africa is the only continent that has consistently provided a common position on topical issues addressed in key global summits and conferences.

Artieda, who also doubles up as Ambassador to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has a rich understanding of Africa and did not shy away from addressing the potential impact that education could have in nurturing the next generation of policymakers and researchers.

70% under US $1.25 per day

The World Bank recently released a report that suggested that the world’s poor will drastically increase on the African continent. Ambassador Artieda used this theory to highlight that over 70% of those that live on under US$1.25 per day live in sub Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia.

“Inequality, climate change, high levels of unemployment, crime and food insecurity are all major issues aligned to Africa’s problems. Africa can rise from this catastrophe by making quality education the fundamental engine for drastically changing this situation,” said the Ambassador.

Education is the key to overturning horrendous statistics

Educational statistics in Africa make for sad reading as just about 1% of African universities produce global research output.

“If African’s don’t take the lead in research in Africa, the agenda of research on the effects of issues such as climate will always be done by the outside world,” noted Artieda.

Key issues tackled

The 6th World Sustainability Forum, which took place for the first time held in Africa, contributes to international debates on sustainability and, more specifically, enables exchanges, which sensitize the international community to the urgency, specifics, and existent knowledge base of sustainability on the African continent, and the African research community about international perspectives on sustainability.


Author: Farai Diza // Photo: Switzerland’s ambassador to South Africa, Helen Budliger Artieda © Caxton

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