Driving sustainable development results in Africa: A woman leader’s perspective


We recently spoke to Alice Ruhweza, Africa Region Director for the Worldwide Fund for Nature. In this spotlight interview, she shares a thought-provoking account of her experience as a female sustainable development leader. She gives us insight into some of the challenges that she has faced and explains how UNSSC’s Sustainable Development Leaders Mastermind Group has changed her perspectives and approaches on leadership for sustainable development.

Can you tell us about yourself and some of the challenges that you see as a sustainable development leader?

I am a Sustainable Development practitioner and thought leader with over 25 years experience working at the nexus of development, the environment and conservation.

In my current role, I lead the work of the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Africa. Our work is very much aligned to the 2030 global development agenda and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Our conservation strategy focuses on six major goals: Food, Forests, Freshwater, Oceans, Climate and Energy and Wildlife– and three key drivers of environmental degradation – markets, finance and governance.

Before I talk about the  challenges, I would like to acknowledge that Africa has made considerable gains towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. The Africa SDG report shows an average score across all African member States of 53.82 in 2020, which is slightly higher than the 2019 average.

The challenge I see is that progress in several areas is not advancing at the scale nor speed required. After six years of SDG implementation, the African continent is only halfway towards achieving the SDGs and targets by 2030. Poverty remains high and climate change and nature loss pose serious threats to current and future wellbeing. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war threaten to reverse progress, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and risking them being left even further behind.

But I also see many opportunities, I see the glass as “half full”.

This interview was originally posted on UNSSC on August 17, 2022.