Conservation International Named Secretariat For Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa

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The GDSA is an agreement by Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania to better understand, value and manage Africa’s natural wealth

Conservation International (CI) assumed the role of Secretariat of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) with the amending of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Botswana this week. This transition of the Secretariat gives CI the responsibility for managing the GDSA, an agreement by Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania.

“As the secretariat, CI will be able to help all the signatory nations achieve the goals they set forth and communicate their successes to all members,” said Daniela Raik Vice President, Field Program Management for Conservation International. “We want to amplify the successes that have been achieved to date and to encourage further efforts to incorporate the value of nature in economic and social development decisions.”

Africa's unparalleled natural resources are vital to the well-being of the continent's rapidly growing population. In 2012, the Government of Botswana took the initiative to bring together leaders from all sectors of society to draft and endorse the GDSA as a commitment to better understand, value and manage Africa’s natural wealth.

The commitment of the Government of the Republic of Botswana to the successful implementation of the GDSA is reflected in the State of the Nation Address where His Excellency the President, Lt. General Sir Seretse Khama Ian Khama, indicated that the Government is fully committed to ensuring that the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa bears fruit. President Khama is also a member of the Board at CI.

This partnership therefore comes at a critical point as it will enable consistent efforts to be made in achieving the set actions. In this regard the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) project results will indeed go a long way as a precursor for reforming our accounting systems. The exercise will enable valuing the contribution of different streams of natural capital to GDP and ensure that our measure of the national wealth is inclusive.

In order to advance the GDSA actions, the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism is implementing the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD). The purpose of the NSSD is to ensure mainstreaming of environmental sustainability into planning and incorporating sustainable development into National Development Plan 11. Sustainable Development is the leading strategic goal and foundation of NDP11, ensuring a balance in meeting short-term needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This planning process will take into account the social, economic and environmental objectives and advocate for acceptable trade-offs where such balance is not possible. Conservation International contributed to this endeavor by conducting the Environment Diagnostic component.

The signatories to the Gaborone Declaration have agreed to take action on three main priorities for Africa’s future:

  • Countries must integrate the value of nature into their national policies and programs, recognizing that nature is needed for economic growth and sustainability.
  • Countries must reduce poverty by transitioning agriculture, extractive industries, fisheries and other economic uses of nature to practices that promote sustainable employment, food security, sustainable energy and the protection of nature, including protected areas.
  • Countries must build the knowledge, capacity and policy networks to promote leadership and a new model in the field of sustainable development to increase momentum for positive change.

Raik added: “The Gaborone Declaration was a groundbreaking agreement when it was created over two years ago. In this new role, CI will bring its expertise of collaborating with important actors across sectors to better understand and manage natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.”

CI’s role has been facilitating the creation of policy, networks and data that will propel Africa to the forefront of sustainable development by making the value of natural resources integral to national economic planning. Working closely with the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, CI commissioned a Situational and Needs Analysis Study aimed at providing baseline information on where the signatories stand with regards to the GDSA strategic principles of: Natural Capital Accounting; Climate change mitigation and adaptation; green economy policy environment; natural capital and poverty eradication; public private partnerships, capacity building and education; as well as environment monitoring. The key findings of the study will enable CI together with the signatories to cultivate new partnerships for regional or country programs to achieve the Declaration’s aspirations.

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Learn more at: http://www.conservation.org/projects/Pages/gaborone-declaration-for-sustainability-in-africa.aspx

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About Conservation International (CI) – Since 1987, Conservation International has been working to improve human well-being through the care of nature. With the guiding principle that nature doesn't need people, but people need nature for food, water, health and livelihoods—CI works with more than 1,000 partners around the world to ensure a healthy, more prosperous planet that supports the well-being of people. Learn more about CI and the "Nature Is Speaking" campaign.

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Kevin Connor
Conservation International
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