Africa is aware of the multifaceted and multidimensional national and global opportunities that it must exploit, as well as the challenges that it must meet to strengthen the foundations of its development.
Since the problems of the environment and poverty are now part of the major challenges of this beginning of the century, all the scientific and technical disciplines find themselves summoned to try to raise the bar and invent solutions allowing them to at least hope to escape the announced catastrophes of all around. The necessary impact of participation, awareness-raising, and education on sustainable development is based on new mechanisms for disseminating information. Another characteristic to be highlighted in sustainable development, governance is reflected in particular in standards, laws, decrees, and effective tools in the process of sustainable development. Conventions and protocols have been signed for the protection of the environment. These include, among others, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in 1994, the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity (1993), ratified in 2001, the Convention on the Combat of desertification (1996), and the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015.
The deep aspirations of populations are part of agenda 2030 of the United Nations (UN) and agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU). Since taking office, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that despite increasing economic globalization, “our sense of global community may be disintegrating” and that the world suffered from a “trust deficit”. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has shown that what started as a health crisis quickly turned into a human and socio-economic crisis. While the crisis has derailed progress toward the achievement of the SDGs, it also makes their achievement even more urgent and necessary. Recent achievements must be protected as much as possible. The transformative turnaround should continue, which should resolve the crisis, reduce the risks of potential future crises and reinvigorate efforts to implement the 2030 UN Agenda, the SDGs, and the 2063 AU Agenda in the Decade of action for sustainable development.
From the above, it is evident that if Africa is to realize the aspirations of its people as articulated in Agenda 2063, there is a need to craft a new development narrative that promotes the continent’s ability to achieve its Agenda 2063 and the UN SDGs and strengthen Africa’s role as an essential player on the global stage. Therefore it is imperative that Africa be focused and strategic to recover better. The United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) established in March 2003, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have joined forces to improve international and regional cooperation for growth and development in Africa. Correlatively, it is crucial to take stock of the growing institutional awareness of information, which is necessary for managing sustainable development. Because we do not perhaps yet know enough in national “info-doc” circles that the understanding of the environmental emergency has begun to translate over the past few years into various recommendations and achievements in this direction, whether the action of international organizations, NGOs, or national institutions.
The new information systems tend more and more to widen their mode of conception and to become “knowledge management systems”. The information systems of the United Nations are the pioneers. An example is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s INIS information system, which evolved to be incorporated into an information and knowledge management division. In the same way that they adopt Agenda 21, countries adopt a local version of it, insofar as they undertake to respect these conventions and to participate in the global process of sustainable development.
The standards, laws, and treaties signed thus become the sign of a country’s commitment to sustainable development. In Lebanon, in the temporary absence of a national strategy, the signing of international conventions (desertification, Kyoto, air protection) and the commitment to respect them become a form of realization of the process. In January 2013, the African Union Member States have committed to pursue a common continental plan for the next 50 years through Agenda 2063. This is a plan that presents an integrated approach to ensure transformation and sustainable development for future generations. Overall, the answer may only be immediate enough if we are already convinced that mastery of information now conditions most human activities.
To overcome these challenges, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres pledged to “make the United Nations more effective in meeting the needs and aspirations of us, the peoples” and proposed a paradigm shift to counter emerging threats such as climate change, to ensure that new technologies become an engine of peace and sustainability, and to “make international trading and financial systems capable of advancing sustainable development and promoting a fair globalization.” The ability must exist to seek to redirect or challenge a decision if the stakeholders deem it unfair or inappropriate, or even dangerous. It is obviously possible, on a theoretical level, to understand all these provisions as so many feedback systems for users and the public in general.
Beyond the conventional information and document processing operations that specialists in the field are familiar with, the essential raison d’être of the new informational raw material is obviously to feed the multiple places where policies are developed and where actions and achievements are implemented, at all conceivable levels. But perhaps we should go a little further. Because, although this may not be directly related to their training or their attributions, it must be said that the professionals of this new documentary field are nevertheless directly concerned with the relationship between the information available and the management of sustainable development.