Sustainable development is a global imperative that transcends borders and communities. As a multidimensional concept that seeks to balance economic, social, and environmental goals to ensure a better quality of life for current and future generations, it demands the collaborative efforts of individuals and organizations committed to driving innovation and promoting inclusion.
In light of this, the upcoming Global Black Impact Summit (GBIS) (www.GlobalBlackImpact.com) , set to take place from November 30 to December 1 in Dubai, will serve as a tribute to this commitment, celebrating #BlackExcellence and those dedicated to inspiring transformative change through innovative and sustainable initiatives. The event features a range of panel discussions, workshops, networking forums, and presentations, all of which are centered around the sustainable future of the planet and the innovators driving progress.
Across the world, a number of Black entrepreneurs and organizations are making great strides in driving sustainable development, introducing innovative technologies, advocating for inclusive growth, and streamlining global sustainability efforts.
On the environmental side, efforts to transition to a clean energy future and promote the protection and conservation of the environment have seen Black entrepreneurs’ shine. In the renewable energy sphere, innovators like Judy Wakhungu, a Kenyan scholar and environmentalist who served as Minister of Environment, Water, and Natural Resources of Kenya, have played a pivotal role in advancing sustainable development in Africa. Wakhungu’s work extends to renewable energy initiatives and sustainable management, with a particular emphasis on ensuring women’s active participation in environmental leadership, emphasizing the multifaceted efforts to secure a greener and more equitable future.
Similarly, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Founder and President of Ocean Collectiv, is dedicated to protecting the oceans and highlights the inseparable link between environmental sustainability and justice while advocating for marine conservation and addressing climate change. Additionally, the Green Belt Movement, founded by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, is a Kenyan grassroots organization that has planted millions of trees and united communities to combat deforestation and desertification. Utilizing Geographical Information Systems, the organization records the locations of tree nurseries and monitors the progress of the trees planted to ensure high survival rates. Mapping tree-planting sites plays a crucial role in ensuring that efforts are contributing to the restoration of critical watersheds.
Meanwhile, on the social front, Myrna Cunningham, a Miskito leader from Nicaragua, advocates for the rights of indigenous people and social inclusion. Her work emphasizes the importance of recognizing indigenous knowledge and practices in building sustainable futures while protecting and conserving natural resources. Similarly, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund actively promotes the diversity and preservation of African American cultures and traditions. It recognizes and supports historically important sites nationwide, preserving and celebrating African American cultural heritage and fostering diversity and social sustainability.
Advocating for economic and sustainable development, Project H.A.L.O. (Help and Aid for Less Opportuned) is a family foundation led by Funke Karim and Kola Karim, with support from their children, including Tobi, Adebayo, and Ayodele. The fund is driven by the belief that with privilege comes the responsibility to give back. It focuses on projects in education, training, healthcare, and poverty alleviation in the United Kingdom and overseas, advocating for economic and sustainable development, particularly for youth.
In Africa, the Mandela Institute for Development Studies was established in honor of Nelson Mandela to focus on leadership and building positive social change. The organization provides scholarships, training, and research opportunities to young African leaders, aiming to ensure that the benefits and challenges of development are fairly distributed among different groups and communities. Similarly, the African Leadership Academy (ALA), founded by Fred Swaniker, is a pan-African institution that identifies, develops, and connects young leaders across the continent. ALA provides a two-year pre-university program focused on leadership, entrepreneurship, and African studies. By nurturing the next generation of African leaders, these organizations contribute to sustainable economic development in Africa by advancing capacity building for young people.
The accomplishments of these individuals and organizations highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in the global pursuit of sustainability. As GBIS 2023 approaches, it serves as a platform to celebrate these and many other trailblazers in sustainable development, offering an opportunity to learn from their innovative solutions and inspire a more sustainable and equitable future for all.