Africa Protected Areas Congress Directors’ meeting opens

15 Nov, 2021 - 15:11 0 Views
Africa Protected Areas Congress Directors’ meeting opens Mr Najib Balala

The Herald

Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

The Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) meeting has started in Nairobi, Kenya with directors from across Africa convening to discuss the creation of a sustainable financing mechanism for all of Africa’s protected and conserved areas.

This week – long meeting is also expected to discuss cooperation mechanisms to strengthen the management of protected and conserved areas and ensure their long-term sustainability.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) is a member and it is represented at the meeting.

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 Kenya’s secretary for tourism and wildlife 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 percent of global GDP. Africa spends less than 10 percent of what is needed to protect and restore nature.

“Protected areas must have access to the financing required for effective management and thus fulfil their role in providing essential biodiversity protection and ecosystem services for people and development.”

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-19 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.

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