Sustainable Development


The field of Sustainable Development is a critical area of research that requires constant monitoring and engagement.  This unit seeks to include the traditional emphasis on natural resource usage and its exploitation.  Additionally, the unit is interested in capturing and promoting an expanded view of sustainable development that balances the resource welfare of Africans with holistic government policy and practice.  This emphasis necessarily presses the unit to seek the resource linkages between affected communities, African states, regional governments, and the international community.


The Sustainable Development Unit seeks to identify key focus areas of research that effectively capture ongoing developmental ambitions and struggles throughout the continent of Africa.


To produce relevant and critical research products that are informative and instructive to South African policy makers and their relevant governmental departments and other interested stakeholders and to implement AISA’s Research Agenda on Seeking Solutions for Africa’s Developmental Challenges.


The overall objective is to undertake research on sustainable development issues in Africa as mandated by the research agenda, vision, mission and values of the Africa Institute of South Africa.  The approach is human centred with an emphasis on holistic development that highlights equitable and inclusive development especially in marginalized communities.  This includes addressing challenges that women, children, and indigenous communities face in the policy areas of resource allocation and resource utilisation. The Unit’s research is designed to offer progressive policy options to African governments and concerned communities across the continent of Africa.

Key Focus Areas

In line with its mandate, the Sustainable Development Research Unit will focus on the following key areas for the next five years:

  • The socio-political and economic empowerment of Africans in the discourse of sustainable development.
  • Resource management and development.
  • Sustainable development and climate change in Africa.
  • The role of land tenure and social justice in the utilization and exploitation of natural resources.
  • Indigenous rights and development.
  • Gender equity, indigenous, and minority empowerment in issues that relate to sustainable development.
  • Interstate, regional and international partnerships in resource allocation and governance.

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