By Naaba Afriye
Dr. Emma Archer is a geographer at the University of Pretoria, and researches sustainable agriculture/damaged ecosystems and climate in Africa. Her work is primarily focused on drylands within the Southern African Development Community and other countries throughout the African continent. Dr Archer will be a guest speaker at JoMUN XVII.
The link between this year's theme "Africa Connecting" and Dr. Archer's work is evident from her discussion regarding the role of leaders on the continent in coming together to improve ecological stability.
In a National Public Radio (NPR) interview conducted in May 2019, Dr. Archer was asked about the current state of biodiversity on the African continent.
"What we know is that we're already seeing significant losses in terms of loss of habitat for migratory and other species and also loss of endemic species,"
Also stating how there was an important link between ecological loss and human wellbeing.
"I think what's really important to know is that we're also seeing loss of biodiversity in terms of how it affects human wellbeing on the African continent."
Dr. Archer gave the example of rooibos tea.
"What's critical to rooibos tea is genetic diversity. Where we see more genetic diversity and different kinds of types of rooibos tea, we see more resilience to drought and high temperatures and more resilience to things like pests and pathogens."
When Dr. Archer was asked how economic progress could mean a loss of habitat and biodiversity, she said, "Well, I would say the reverse. I would say that on the African continent, we're actually in a unique and amazing strategic position where we still have an opportunity to make sure that the best scientific evidence can inform the kind of trade-offs that we have to make in terms of where we want to go developmentally.".
Dr. Archer's international networks allow for information regarding the current state of agriculture and land use on the African continent, to be publicized on a greater scale. In turn, this contributes towards ensuring stereotypes and misinformation are not further perpetuated.
Dr. Archer continues emphasizing the importance of understanding the overall ramifications of how biodiversity loss impacts regions ranging from Central America to South East Asia.
"That affects all of us, not simply people in Africa. And I think it's something that we can see, not just as something to be concerned about in a kind of a humanitarian sense, but also something that really compromises the basis for the health of our planet in the future."
By illustrating the 'bigger picture", Dr. Archer displays how her work across Africa involves the health of the planet as a whole.
Dr. Archer also reminds us that our individual actions have an impact.
"Africa's Wildlife Threatened with Extinction as Natural Landscapes Wither." NPR, NPR, 6 May 2019.