On January 16, 2015, the Sahel SDSN launched in Dakar, Senegal. The Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD) hosts the regional network, with support from the MDG Centre West and Central Africa. The network includes members from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Sahel, Ms. Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, opened the launch event by stressing the importance of shared sustainable development strategies for the region. Then Hon. Prof. Mary Teuw Niane, the Senegalese Minister of Higher Education and Research, emphasized the important role universities have to play in influencing science-based policies for sustainable development at local, national, and regional levels.
Over 100 participants from academia, research, civil society, government, the private sector, and international organizations attended. The event featured a lecture by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the MDGs. In his presentation titled “The Age of Sustainable Development and the Sahel,” he outlined certain risks to African development, but remained positive in his outlook for the region, particularly given the great opportunities for developing solar energy.
The launch event also included discussions of some key priority areas for regional collaboration with specific country examples by experts from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. These included presentations on climate change, access to water and sanitation, access to energy, and inclusive growth and jobs (click titles to see presentations).
The Senegalese Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Hon. Prof. Abdoulaye Balde, represented President Macky Sall and officially launched the initiative. The Sahel SDSN seeks to bring together a diversity of stakeholders to jointly implement innovative solutions for sustainable development in the region. Over 20 institutions from the region have already joined the SDSN, and many more are expected to do so in the coming months.