AfDB and WWF to launch Africa Ecological Footprint Report

Posted on 31 May 2012

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and global conservation group WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) have launched today a joint report on the state of Africa’s environment.
Arusha, Tanzania: The African Development Bank (AfDB) and global conservation group WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) have launched today a joint report on the state of Africa’s environment.

The Africa Ecological Footprint Report: Green Infrastructure for Africa's Ecological Security takes stock of the health of Africa’s ecosystems, as well as trends in resources use patterns. It also lays out recommendations on implementing green development pathways for Africa.

This report is intended to stoke up thinking on greener development in Africa and to rally action by policy-makers and investors in the lead-up to Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place later this month in Brazil.

“Africa has choices”, underlines AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka. “Embracing a more sustainable approach to development can generate benefits in terms of environmental security, human wellbeing, and increased competitiveness.”

The Africa Ecological Footprint Report 2012 outlines two alarming trends, which if not addressed by policy-makers and investors are likely to lead to important social and economic impacts. First, by tracking the changes in wildlife populations as a proxy for ecosystem health, the Africa Living Planet Index shows a decline of nearly 40% in biodiversity in the last four decades. This decline reflects a degradation of the natural systems upon which Africa’s current and future prosperity depends.

Second, rapid population growth and increasing prosperity are changing consumption patterns, with the result that Africa’s ecological footprint – the area needed to generate the resources consumed by the people who live here – has been growing steadily. While Africa’s total ecological footprint is set to double by 2040 in a business-as-usual scenario, the good news is that Africa is in an advantageous position to act. It is endowed with tremendous natural resources, which, if managed properly, will be able to meet the needs of a growing population. And its relatively low footprint may be maintained if forward-looking and large-scale solutions can be mobilised in the areas of renewable energy, urban planning, and sound management of forests, water and marine resources.

The opportunity and urgency to act to ensure adequate and equitable access to water, fuel and food in the coming decades is highlighted by Jim Leape, WWF Director General.

“Our ecological infrastructure – terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems – is as essential to human development as are industrial and social infrastructures such as roads, schools, hospitals and energy provision,” said WWF’s Jim Leape. “The Africa Ecological Footprint Report showcases successful and scalable initiatives across Africa in renewable energy, integrated water resource management, ecotourism and forest conservation. The report offers concrete recommendations for maintaining Africa’s natural capital as the foundation for sustainable and inclusive development and I urge decision-makers to act on them.”

Donald Kaberuka and Jim Leape launched the report together on 1 June as part of the AfDB’s Annual Meetings in Arusha. The event, attended by AfDB senior staff, government ministers, NGO representatives, African business and financial leaders, and the African and international media, is intended to inspire interest and action from these key decision-makers. The report will also be featured at a side event of the Rio+20 conference in June.

AfDB and WWF formally entered into a partnership last July, agreeing to initially focus on three areas of cooperation: developing win-win partnerships with emerging economies and strengthening South-South cooperation; catalysing knowledge sharing and knowledge products for green growth and sustainable development; collaborating on energy and water resource management; and climate change. This report is the first joint product of this partnership.

With a recent tripling of its capitalisation to USD 100 billion, the AfDB is the most important multilateral institution financing development in Africa. As the continent faces rapid economic and population growth, and growing resource and climate pressures, the AfDB plays an essential role in ensuring sustainable and equitable development.

WWF is the world’s largest environmental non-governmental organisation and has been active in Africa since its foundation more than 50 years ago. WWF works together with governments, businesses and local communities to deliver conservation and sustainable development worldwide.

To download the report, and to find out more, go to: or

Cover of the Africa Ecological Footprint Report 2012: Green Infrastructures for Africa's Ecological Security.
© WWF / African Development Bank