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26 African Business September 2019

Sustainability

From preserving tropical forests to combating the plastic crisis, WEF is tackling pressing environmental issues.

Saving Africa’s tropical forests

At the turn of the 20th century, tropical forests teeming with fauna and wildlife stretched across West Africa in a verdant belt from Cameroon to Liberia and beyond. Yet by the second decade of the 21st century, it was estimated that some 80-90% of those forests had disappeared as unsustainable and damaging agricultural techniques took hold. Whether through outdated smallholder methods or ceaseless industrial farming, the production of palm oil, soy, beef, paper and pulp have all contributed to the gradual destruction of forests vital to combating climate change, desertification, soil erosion, and flooding.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, the World Economic Forum is using its convening power to turn back the clock. Since 2015, the organisation has hosted the Tropical Forest Alliance, a global umbrella partnership that brings together governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations in a bid to combat deforestation. With millions of regional livelihoods at stake, the TFA’s mission goes beyond mere forest protection and restoration to embracing fundamental questions of economic development in agricultural communities. For Justin Adams, executive director at TFA, the solution requires a detailed understanding of the needs of local people.

“We know that individual actors on their own

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