Sustainable Governance and Sustainable Environmental Management
Posted on: August/03/2015 10:13 am by: William Brooke Stallsmith

Sustainable governance and sustainable environmental management are two sides of the same coin. Corrupt and arbitrary political regimes give little thought to conservation of natural resources. Environmental degradation impoverishes people both economically and socially, creating hurdles to citizens' ability to demand justice and services from their government. IST's programs are, of course, squarely on the "governance" side of the coin in post-conflict countries, but we need to think about the "green" side as well. The Sahara Conservation Fund is an organization that does just that in the increasingly unstable Sahara-Sahelian zone of Northern and Western Africa.

SCF's mission is to conserve the wildlife, habitats and other natural resources of the Sahara and its bordering Sahelian grasslands. Its vision is of a Sahara that is well conserved and where ecological processes function naturally, with plants and animals existing in healthy numbers across their historical range. Critically, the Foundation's approach emphasizes mobilizing support from local populations in desert zones, as well as other stakeholders in the countries involved, with the goal of ensuring that current and future generations can benefit from the Sahara and its resources.

The latest number of SCF's semi-annual newsletter, Sandscript, highlights linkages between stability, good governance, and the sustainability of natural resources.

• Populations of addax antelopes and other wildlife are disappearing from Niger's Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve due to pressures from poorly regulated oil production and the stepped-up movements of terrorists, human traffickers, and other criminals across the desert.

• In Mali, fighters from rebel factions are poaching the embattled population of desert elephants, as part of a campaign to derail peace talks.

• And in Tunisia, the encouraging efforts to restore desert eco-systems that Sandscript describes could be disrupted by the recent surge in bloodletting by terrorists claiming allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.

In sum, political governance and environmental management both matter. As SCF has recognized, progress in one is not sustainable without progress in the other.

Disclaimer: John Newby, SCF's founder and CEO, has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years. Luckily for John, he has an awful lot more going for him than this one dubious acquaintance. A conservation biologist and aridlands ecologist with some four decades of experience in the Sahara and Sahel, at least as important are his knowledge of, connections with, and respect for the people of the region. The entire world is a better place as a result of John's commitment to preserving the Saharan habitat. 

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