The tools, technologies and skills are now sufficiently developed in Africa to turn the aspirations of Agenda 21, the first summit’s defining document, into practical realities. The next stage is for green investors to understand the situation on the ground and to explore Africa’s enormous opportunities. Africa’s 2011 Green Economy Initiative followed by the successful 2012 World Economic Forum in Africa are natural spring boards to the next stage.
Security costs and opportunity costs must now be added to the lengthening list of 21st century hidden costs of brown development. Security costs are increasing with the rising discontent across the continent. The so-called land grabs isolate thousands of potentially well-armed people. An African country pursuing brown development strategies also risks the opportunity costs of deterring green investors. Brown development attracts investors because the rules are slack whereas green development attracts them because the rules are strict.
The "something beautiful" could be African strategies to expand the green economy.
Integrated river basin management, systems thinking and biosphere reserves embody the holistic approach to sustainable development and are key tools for unlocking Africa’s green economy. Instead of investing in mega-brown development strategies Africa has the resources and qualifications to lead the world in mega-green. Africa’s great advantage in expanding the green economy is that their ‘under-developed’ river basins are already mostly green.