'African Futures: navigating a profound transition' - panel discussion

Past Event

07 March 2017, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

I Stock Jim Vallee Africainourhands
© Istock/JimVallee

By 2050, a quarter of humanity will be African. The continent is in profound transition, the scale of which matters not just for the citizens of Africa's 54 nations, but for the world. It is the fastest urbanising continent, and experiencing rapid industrialisation.

Its economic growth has outperformed Latin America and most developed economies over recent years, yet 55% of Africa’s labour force today is still employed in agriculture, and the challenges of peace and security continue to occupy the headlines about the continent. Six hundred million of its citizens live without access to electricity, yet by 2014 more than 80% of the population had a mobile phone.

The facts about Africa’s growth and development leave no doubt about its unique trajectory, but how will the continent navigate these changes, and how will the world engage with this unprecedented scale and pace of change?

In Oxford, new approaches are being forged to studying and understanding Africa, including the Africa-Oxford Initiative and the inclusion of Africa within Oxford Martin School’s new research theme 'Great Transitions'. Join us on 7 March to hear from Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam International, Dr Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and current Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow, and Achim Steiner, Director of the Oxford Martin School, and be part of the debate as they discuss the range of African futures that could emerge over the coming decades.

This panel discussion will be followed by a drinks reception, all welcome

About the panel

Winnie Byanyima is Executive Director of Oxfam International. She is a leader on women’s rights, democratic governance and peace building. She served eleven years in the Ugandan Parliament, and has served at the African Union Commission and as Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Program. She co-founded the 60-member Global Gender and Climate Alliance and chaired a UN task force on gender aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, and on climate change.

Born in Uganda, Ms Byanyima was elected for three terms and served eleven years in the Ugandan Parliament. She led Uganda's first parliamentary women’s caucus, championing ground-breaking gender equality provisions in the county's 1995 post-conflict constitution. A world recognized expert on women's rights, she founded the still-thriving civil society organisation Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE). She has served at the African Union Commission and as Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Program.

Ms Byanyima is a signatory to her country’s 1985 peace agreement and has helped to broker and support women’s participation in peace processes in Rwanda, South Africa, Burundi, Sudan and other countries emerging from conflict.

She co-founded a 60-member Global Gender and Climate Alliance of civil society, bilateral and multilateral organisations and chaired a UN-wide task force on gender aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, and on climate change. She has served on numerous global boards and commissions including the African Capacity Building Foundation and the International Centre for Research on Women.

She holds a M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering in Energy Conservation and the Environment (University of Cranfield), and a B.Sc. in Aeronautical Engineering (University of Manchester).

She began a five-year term leading Oxfam International on May 1 2013.

Dr Carlos Lopes is former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

He has a wealth of academic research and teaching experience in the fields of development and strategic planning, has authored or edited more than 20 books and taught at academic institutions in Lisbon, Coimbra, Zurich, Uppsala, Mexico, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Dr Lopes has had a distinguished career with the United Nations, having occupied various prominent positions such as Representative in Zimbabwe and Brazil, Director for Development Policy at the UN Development Program, Director of the UN System Staff College, Political Director for Secretary General Kofi Annan, Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research, before leading the ECA for the last four years.

He is affiliated with a number of academic networks, and has helped establish various non-governmental organizations and centres for social research, in particular in Africa. In 2008 he was elected to the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, Portugal. Dr Lopes currently serves as Member of Governing Boards or advisory and editorial committees to several institutions including the Geneva Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, and the Lisbon University Institute, which he chairs.

Dr Lopes holds a PhD in history from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and a research masters from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies on economic development. He has also received honorary doctorates from the University of Cândido Mendes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Hawassa University, Ethiopia.

He will be sharing his time with a Visiting Professorship at the Faculty of Commerce, Graduate School of Development and Policy Practice at the University of Cape Town, and serving the Global Commission on Economy and Climate and the Steering Group helping the African Union reform, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame.

Achim Steiner was appointed Director of the Oxford Martin School on 1st September 2016. Prior to joining the University of Oxford he served as United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (2006-2016).

During his tenure at the United Nations, Mr Steiner helped to position UNEP as a central global player on issues such as climate change, technology innovation, ecosystems management and the role of markets and the private sector in sustainable development. He also led UNEP through a major reform and transformation process culminating in the UN General Assembly establishing a new UN Environment Assembly in 2014, to foster more effective global environmental cooperation and governance. As Executive Director he pioneered a number of new major initiatives linking economic and environmental transitions such as on the green economy, finance, energy, and resource management. Mr Steiner also served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Chief Executive Board and chaired the UN System’s High Level Committee on Programmes.

During his career, which he began as a development economist and which gradually led him into the broader arena of sustainable development, international relations and global diplomacy, Mr Steiner has led a number of institutions as Chief Executive, including as Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams, Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). He has lived and worked in Oman, UK, India, Pakistan, Germany, Zimbabwe, USA, Vietnam, South Africa, Switzerland and Kenya.

He currently serves on a number of Boards and Councils – including as International Vice-Chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, as Chair of the AGORA Verkehrswende Council, Germany, and as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Sustainability and Legacy Commission.

Mr Steiner was born in Brazil and holds both Brazilian and German nationality. He graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (MA) at the University of Oxford, holds an MA from the University of London/School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and completed his post-graduate studies at the German Development Institute as well as the Harvard Business School Executive Programme. He has been awarded a doctorate honoris causa by the International University in Geneva and is an Honorary Professor at Tongji University, Shanghai. His work and leadership have been recognised through numerous awards such as the Talberg Foundation's Award for Principled Pragmatism, the Bruno H. Schubert Prize for Environmental Leadership, the Slovak Republic's Gold Medal for Diplomatic Service, the Republic of Korea Order of Diplomatic Service Award and the German Sustainability Award. Mr Steiner is an Officer of the Order of St Charles.