SCB Africa Section Statement on the Use of Agrofuels in Africa

August 2008 - Sub-Saharan Africa is suffering from biodiversity loss, alongside poverty, war, conflict, hunger, starvation, poor infrastructure, population pressure, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other development challenges. Africa will undeniably need adequate energy to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The proposed role of agrofuels as a suitable and sustainable means to meet regional and global energy needs elevates, however, raises serious questions about biodiversity conservation, food security and human livelihoods, which all face increasing threats from the demands placed on limited land resources. MDG 7 calls for environmental sustainability, emphasizing that development is not undermined in the long run by inappropriate development practices.

The purpose of this position paper is to explore the means of sustaining both humans and wildlife while producing agro-fuels as an alternative energy source in sub-Saharan Africa. Production of agrofuels must be approached in a manner that prevents further biodiversity loss, livelihood loss and food scarcity on the continent. Some approaches to be considered by governments are: a) undertake full social and environmental impact assessments of all proposed biofuel projects according to recognized procedures and standards in order to ensure the energy needs in urban and rural areas are met in such a way to optimize sustainable social and economic benefits while minimizing environmental impacts; b) establish stringent policies and laws that monitor and control biofuel projects to maintain high standards and protocols to achieve an ecological and socioeconomic balance where biofuel plantations are developed with adequate soil conservation and water management measures while endangered species and biodiversity are protected; c) establish policies and strategies that ensure that people have access to adequate amounts of nutritious food supply; d) develop an appropriate basis for assessing production and processing methods (PPMs) of biofuels to meet local needs.

The full position paper can be accessed here.