Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, and fellow Africans good afternoon. Thank you for the invitation to be part of this BRICS Urbanisation Forum “Advancing urban resilience for sustainable cities and towns for future generations”.
Traditional leaders play a crucial role in localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by acting as key influencers and facilitators within their communities. They can promote awareness, encourage participation, and mobilize resources for SDG-related initiatives. Additionally, their deep knowledge of local customs and practices allows them to align global goals with the specific needs and aspirations of their communities, making the SDGs more relevant and achievable at the local level. By leveraging their authority and respect, traditional leaders can foster sustainable development, social cohesion, and inclusivity in their areas.
Programme Director, in our context it is always important to consider rural-urban interdependencies. To realise these interdependencies, the following actions are important:
- Policymakers and decision makers focus on promoting balanced development across both rural and urban areas, recognizing the interconnectedness between them. This approach aims to ensure that growth in one area positively impacts the other and reduces disparities.
- Investments in infrastructure, such as roads, transportation, and communication networks, are crucial to facilitate the flow of goods, services, and people between rural and urban areas, promoting economic activities and social integration.
- Empowering local governments and communities to make decisions and manage resources enhances the ability to address specific local needs and challenges, fostering collaboration and cooperation between rural and urban areas.
- Supporting sustainable agriculture and rural development can lead to economic diversification and increased opportunities for rural populations, reducing the pressure on urban centers and creating a more balanced distribution of economic activities.
- Efficient urban planning can help manage urbanization and control urban sprawl, preserving agricultural land and green spaces, and avoiding encroachment on rural areas.
- Ensuring equitable access to education, healthcare, and social services in both rural and urban areas can reduce disparities and enhance the overall well-being of the population.
- Expanding access to ICTs in rural areas can bridge the digital divide and promote economic opportunities and social inclusion.
- Encouraging collaboration between neighboring rural and urban areas can foster mutual benefits and shared resources, enhancing overall regional development.
Programme Director, these policy practices are designed to recognize and leverage the interdependencies between rural and urban areas, creating more sustainable and inclusive development outcomes for both.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to note that innovative approaches can significantly contribute to improving rural and urban livelihoods and enhancing community resilience. Some of these approaches include:
- Promoting sustainable agricultural practices, such as agroecology, organic farming, and precision agriculture, can increase food production, enhance rural livelihoods, and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
- Implementing circular economy models that focus on minimizing waste, recycling resources, and promoting local production and consumption can create economic opportunities, reduce environmental footprints, and strengthen community resilience.
- Leveraging digital technologies, such as mobile apps for agricultural advice, e-commerce platforms for rural artisans, and remote healthcare services, can improve access to information and services, boosting rural livelihoods and well-being.
- Investing in green infrastructure, like urban gardens, green roofs, and sustainable transportation systems, can enhance urban liveability, promote environmental sustainability, and improve the overall quality of life for urban dwellers.
- Encouraging the development of community-owned and decentralized renewable energy projects can provide reliable and affordable energy access in both rural and urban areas, contributing to sustainable development and resilience.
- Supporting social entrepreneurship and microfinance initiatives can empower individuals and communities, fostering economic development and job creation, particularly in underserved rural areas.
- Implementing climate adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction measures can enhance community resilience to climate-related challenges, benefiting both rural and urban populations.
- Adopting nature-based solutions, such as reforestation, wetland restoration, and urban green spaces, can improve environmental health, provide ecosystem services, and contribute to the overall well-being of communities.
- Engaging communities, stakeholders, and local authorities in co-creating and implementing development projects fosters ownership and ensures that interventions meet the specific needs and aspirations of the people.
These innovative approaches have the potential to create more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient communities, bridging the gap between rural and urban areas and contributing to the overall improvement of livelihoods and well-being.
In rural areas, it is important to encourage the development of multiple income streams, such as sustainable agriculture, agribusiness, eco-tourism, and cottage industries, to reduce dependency on a single sector and increase community resilience to economic shocks.
As part of outcomes of this session we wish to call on the following:
- Governments can focus on improving access to quality education and healthcare in rural areas. This can be done by building schools and healthcare facilities, providing scholarships and grants, and incentivizing healthcare professionals to work in rural areas. This helps to reduce the rural-urban divide in terms of access to essential services.
- Policies that promote collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking between rural and urban areas can foster interdependencies and create opportunities for economic cooperation. This can include initiatives like mentorship programs, business incubators, and partnerships between rural and urban enterprises.
- Rural areas often possess unique cultural and natural heritage that can be leveraged for tourism. Policies can be designed to support sustainable tourism initiatives in rural areas, while ensuring the preservation of local cultures, traditions, and ecosystems.
- Empowering local governments and ensuring community participation in decision-making processes can help address the specific needs and challenges of rural areas. This can include supporting local initiatives, creating platforms for dialogue, and providing resources and capacity-building support.
By adopting these policy practices, governments can foster rural-urban interdependencies, promote balanced and inclusive development, and reduce disparities between rural and urban areas.
Thank you, and May God bless Africa!