Washington, D.C.— Twenty-one senior government officials representing nine African countries, the African Union, and the United States discussed pressing global concerns on Nov. 9, the first day of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ (ACSS) inaugural African Executive Dialogue.
The high-level meeting’s participants found that water scarcity, climate change, and unstable food supplies in Africa are security issues that could derail democratic and economic advances being made on the continent. They tackled other major international issues on the second day including booming population growth and how governments could best respond to complex emergencies.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the quickest growing economies in the world, yet it faces great challenges,” said Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs. “We cannot ignore any of these issues—climate change, corruption, population, among others—and it’s all of our responsibility to come up with solutions. Africa must take these on for the sake of Africa, but also for the sake of the world.”
Before they dove into the first of five plenary sessions meant to dissect the major contemporary issues, Lieutenant General Ivan Koreta, Deputy Chief of the Uganda Peoples Defence Force, forecast the theme of the dialogue would become education and awareness. He said humanity would be unable to confront global problems without understanding them, especially issues that unravel slowly over time like climate change.
“We’re not experiencing some of these yet in Uganda, but we can see them coming,” Koreta said. “It’s not a question of if, but when. We must raise awareness and educate the people of Uganda and around the world to address these issues before they are unmanageable.”
Ambassador William M. Bellamy (ret.), Director of ACSS, said he had high hopes for the results of the dialogue, which sprouted from a meeting in which security sector experts tried to conceptualize what the world would look like in 20 years. He saw that the group needed to expand the conversation to include voices from around the world.
“This dialogue is the first step to examine a series of issues. Will the world come together to manage the global commons: the oceans, outer space, the polar zones, cyberspace?” Bellamy asked the assembly. “Africa and Africans need to be part of this debate and help to shape how we manage the global commons.”