Africa protected areas directors convene to shape core conservation elements

Africa protected areas directors convene to shape core conservation elements

Protected Areas Directors from across Africa have convened in Nairobi to discuss the creation of a sustainable financing mechanism for all of Africa’s protected and conserved areas and to agree cooperation mechanisms that strengthen the management of protected and conserved areas and ensure their long-term sustainability.

The meeting is taking place ahead of the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) scheduled for 7-12 March in Kigali Rwanda.

“This meeting is happening at a critical time when there is growing global attention on our strained relationship with nature,” said Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala.

“We are not investing in the natural systems we depend upon. US$700 billion more is needed for biodiversity each year, less than 1% of global GDP. Africa spends less than 10% of what is needed to protect and restore nature. Protected areas must have access to the financing required for effective management and thus fulfill their role in providing essential biodiversity protection and ecosystem services for people and development,” he added.

The meeting presents an opportunity for the Directors to forge a common front on conservation in Africa.  The Directors will map out practical approaches to addressing the conservation challenges such as biodiversity loss, illegal wildlife trade, the impact of climate as a continent.

“Synergy among the Directors is fundamental to meeting the challenges that Africa Protected and Conserved Areas face. The purpose of bringing together Africa Protected Areas Directors is to co-create the solutions for Pan African approaches to sustainable financing as well as disaster response and preparedness,” said CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation, Kaddu Sebunya.

The Directors are expected to discuss the formation of A-Pan African Conservation Trust (A-PACT) that will place Africa protected and conserved areas at the heart of Africa’s development agenda as set out in Agenda 2063.

The need to create a sustainable financing mechanism driven by the urgency to respond to challenges presented by the COVID pandemic and economic downturn, as well as the chronic challenges with securing sustained and sufficient financing for operations. African protected and conserved areas, on a whole, manage on a fraction of the budgets they need.

“Currently there are a lot of discussions around ‘green growth’ investments with global negotiations striving to mobilize private finance through nature-based solutions that link biodiversity and climate action. Protected and conserved areas are the backbone of natural infrastructure for Africa. We must come together as African leaders to ensure the global negotiations are delivering investment in a resilient and sustainable future for Africa,” said Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn and Patron to the Africa Protected Area Congress.

Using protected areas as a tool for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will also form part of the key discussions at the pre- congress meeting. ‘’Restoring degraded lands within protected and conserved areas will contribute significantly to biodiversity gains and climate resilience and mitigation. Parks and forest ecosystems play a central role in Africa’s ambitious restoration agenda as they provide critical ecosystem services for large areas of land way beyond immediate habitats,” remarked Director General for the Kenya Wildlife Service Brigadier (Rtd.) John Waweru.

‘’Support and commitment from African leadership to implement a development vision prioritizing nature and societal aspirations for sustainable and resilient outcomes is vital. Governments need to implement a nature-based recovery from the pandemic and urgently address the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises,’’ concluded Luther Anukur, IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

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