Sustain Cafe: Sustainability in Africa

Rene Castro Sustain Cafe June 10, 2015

by: Gideon Baffoe & Yasuko Kusakari

Dr. Orleans Mfune

Dr. Orleans Mfune

Two young scholars from Africa were invited for the session of Sustain.Cafe. They were Dr. Divine Fuh from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and Dr. Orleans Mfune of University of Zambia, Zambia. The session was under a broad topic “Sustainability in Africa”. Dr. Fuh discussed the sustainability of everyday life in the context of South Africa and Cameroon, while Dr. Mfune examined current implementation of REDD+ in Africa by looking at the potential winners and losers.

A key point in Dr. Mfune’s presentation was that REDD+ is rather hurting the poor, as it deprives them of their only asset (natural capital) to make a living. Issues of compensation, resource ownership and governance are not clearly spelt out. According to Dr. Mfune, REDD+ is not the ultimate solution to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission as purported. He described it as “neo-colonialism in Africa”.


Dr. Divine Fuh

Dr. Fuh discussed sustainability as an embedded trait in mankind by stating “People are naturally sustainable in their lives even though they do unsustainable things”. He pointed out that people naturally dream and, as a result, anticipate future uncertainty and continuity. The ability to sustain people’s capacity to anticipate uncertainty, precarity and urgency, is what sustainability seeks to achieve. Dr. Fuh’s lively talk triggered a number of questions such as “how are people able to dream in their current daily struggle to survive?” and “should survivability be equated to sustainability?” These, among others, were some of the concerns that generated interesting perspectives from participants.