This year’s Agence Française de Développement (AFD) international research conference was framed by the concept of “strong sustainability”. This comes as questions about the operational coherence of the Sustainable Development Goals framework and the sustainability of development trajectories have emerged amidst global crises and civil society mobilisation for a just transition.
The notion of strong sustainability goes beyond the economic issues of income and employment that often take precedence over environmental issues, which have a longer-term horizon.
The event, held in the first week of December 2022, combined academic insights, testimonies, and recommendations for the attention of the public and private sectors to help inform better political, environmental, economic, and social development. At the parallel session on “Multidimensional vulnerabilities, inequalities and climate change in Africa”, Dr Britta Rennkamp (African Climate and Development Institute, UCT) presented insights from the TSITICA project, focusing on “Multidimensional inequalities, climate governance and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa”.
ACEIR South Africa researcher Dr Muna Shifa (Southern Africa Labour and Development Unit, UCT) added further nuance with a paper, “Who is multidimensionally vulnerable to climate change in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa?”.
In conclusion, ACEIR and SALDRU director, Prof Murray Leibbrandt, presented a high-level overview, focusing on “The dissonances of poverty, growth, and inequality – Understanding the different trajectories of poverty, growth, inequality and development”. He pointed out the need for addressing “redistributive concerns” as a condition for growth strategies that aim to reduce poverty. This approach can deal with the slow reduction in poverty to date due to growth patterns not being inclusive and the increase in wealth and asset inequalities.
Watch the conference session recordings online.