Environmental protection, waste and a circular economy in Africa - Call for papers Africa e Mediterraneo n. 94/2021

Sandra Federici's picture

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Call for Papers
March 25, 2021 to April 30, 2021
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Literature, Philosophy, Social Sciences

In 1992, during the UN Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, member states expressed their common agreement for the need to cooperate in the fight against the deterioration of the environment. They appreciated the need for common but different responsibilities. The most developed countries recognised their responsibility to move towards sustainable development, in the light of their larger carbon footprint and their greater technological and financial resources. Over recent years this topic has become increasingly pressing, notably with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN in 2015 as part of the “2030 Agenda”.

In African countries, activists and civil society organisations have been highlighting this issue for a long time (Ken Saro-Wiwa’s example, as well as Wangari Maathai’s, are paradigmatic). There have also been initiatives on a continental level, such as the creation, in 2008, of the platform Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, which brings together more than 1,000 organisations and communities.

Aware of the factors contributing to the deterioration of the environment, starting from the dominance of the "energy-consuming" development model, Africa has had to manage different interplaying factors. Its role as a global actor, engaging in dialogue, trading and building alliances with partners, according to its interests (EU, USA, China, India, Turkey, Arab world, etc.). Its desire to grow and create conditions for the internal market (the African Continental Free Trade Area-AfCFTA has been recently created) and for foreign investments, valorising its resources (both natural and human). Its need to dramatically expand its infrastructures, both material (streets, railways, ports, airports, energy infrastructures) and immaterial, and the sustainable use of energy sources.

Despite the fact that the Bamako Convention, which has been in force since 1998, forbids African countries from importing hazardous waste, including radioactive waste, waste disposal in Africa is a crucial issue. In addition to the global circulation of these materials, and their reintroduction into value chains, attention should be paid both to the condition of waste collectors – who as well as being extremely marginalised, carry out their work in dangerous conditions and are underpaid – and, further upstream, to the problem of the growth of consumption. All this creates opportunities and contradictions that must lead to a sustainable growth path conceived and desired by Africans.

From an institutional perspective, the green relaunch of Africa is inspired by the vision of Agenda 2063, the Africa we want, a common strategic plan for the socio-economic transformation of the continent, launched in 2013 by the African Union for “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, guided by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”. In parallel, the UN Global Compact’s strategy for Africa, which recalls the role of the private sector and of corporate responsibility, aims “to build more integrated markets, more resilient societies and achieve lasting and sustainable growth”. At the same time, in 2020 the European Union launched the Green New Deal,5 which also foresees a partnership strategy with Africa, based on a new mix of support packages and private investments, to create alliances and foster sustainable growth. The economic and social devastation to the continent brought by the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have fostered an acceleration of action by the different stakeholders. During the seventh Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development held from the 1st to the 4th March 2021, the speeches focused on the idea that the reconstruction post-Covid-19 will need to follow green pathways, aimed at lowering carbon emissions.

One possible answer to these challenges is the transition towards circular economy, which can give rise to new realities. These include energy safety, lesser dependency on other countries, and environmental and biodiversity safeguards. There are multiple sectors in which this may be implemented. For example, the fashion sector produces interesting projects applying these principles,6 while the food and agricultural sector has been experimenting new technical solutions for some time. From an expressive point of view, if recycling has been interpreted technically and thematically by African artists for some time now, the world of communication is becoming increasingly more active in this regard. Furthermore, the African academic world is questioning the persistence of Western scientific approaches in the continent’s universities, while including indigenous knowledge in the study curricula would lead to more suitable results.

The new Africa e Mediterraneo dossier seeks to explore in-depth the concept of circular economy in Africa, investigating its different facets, with its usual multidisciplinary approach.

Contact Info: 

The proposals (title, abstract of max. 400 words, author and a short biography) must be submitted no later than **April 30th 2021** to 
the following email addresses s.federici@africaemediterraneo.it and s.saleri@laimomo.it
The proposals will be judged by the editorial committee. If the proposal is accepted, the full article (including abstract and biography) must be submitted by **June 30th 2021**.

The articles and the proposals can be submitted in the following languages: Italian, English and French. Africa e Mediterraneo is a peer reviewed journal.