WWF: APAC Gives Africa a Conservation Voice
The world's largest conservation organisation applauds the Kigali Call to Action, which places people at the centre of effective conservation.
Kigali: As the first African Protected Area Congress comes to a close, WWF applauds African governments' increased political commitment to the continent's more than 8,600 protected and conserved areas.
The conference, held this week in Kigali, aimed to raise awareness of the critical role these areas play in protecting the continent's iconic species, providing vital ecosystem services, driving sustainable development, and conserving Africa's cultural heritage.
WWF was encouraged to see government leaders from across Africa recognise the importance of PCAs in protecting the health and wellbeing of their people, who rely on nature for food, crop pollination, seed dispersal, clean water, and other services.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “The large participation of African leaders and conservation practitioners at the first ever African congress on protected and conserved areas has sent a clear and strong message that Africa is owning its conservation agenda and is committed to protecting its natural heritage and capital as a foundation for sustainable economy and development. African leaders have also clearly indicated their commitment to increase domestic resourcing to protected areas, and to ensure that expansion and effectiveness in management is promoted through inclusive governance and fair benefit sharing with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.”
WWF supports the Kigali Call to Action by promoting effective and inclusive management of protected and conserved areas in many African landscapes, as well as the implementation of environmental and social safeguards, as well as the free and prior informed consent process.
The organisation believes that empowering people and putting them at the centre of conservation efforts benefits their livelihoods as well as long-term conservation efforts, which are ultimately necessary for addressing global climate change and biodiversity loss and advancing sustainable development.
Alice Ruhweza, WWF Africa Region Director, said: “WWF lauds the Kigali Call to Action as a highly significant outcome of the APAC which moves us in the right direction – towards a future where people and nature are at the heart of Africa’s sustainable development journey. African governments, conservation organisations, private sector, civil society, and society at large must build on the enthusiasm, energy and momentum we have generated here in Kigali to ensure the call to action is fully implemented. In particular, recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to their land and resources is central to achieving this ambition.”
WWF also supports the Call to Action's call for increased and coordinated funding for protected and conserved areas, which has been noted as insufficient and inconsistent throughout the week's discussions.
Lambertini added: “APAC represents a great opportunity for Africa to embrace a sustainable agenda and build a carbon-neutral and nature-positive society, and to make nature everyone’s business. We urge African leaders and society to bring this strong commitment into the ongoing negotiations of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal where the world has the opportunity to agree a Paris-style agreement for nature.”