KIGALI: MONDAY, 25 JULY 2022
BirdLife International has called for increased push for the safeguarding of protected and conserved areas at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) in Kigali, Rwanda.
“This inaugural APAC is an opportunity for stakeholders to link up and work in a coordinated manner to ensure resources and efforts go to the right places and for the priority efforts. For example, the discussion around investing in Key Biodiversity Areas identified as conservation priorities using standard criteria is a good starting point,” Paul Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, the Interim Regional Director of Birdlife International in Africa said.
The congress -the first gathering of stakeholders focusing on protected areas- brought together more than 2,400 participants from 53 African countries.
They deliberated on the role of Protected and Conserved Areas (PCAs) in nature conservation, protecting Africa’s wildlife, delivering vital ecosystem services and promoting sustainable development while safeguarding cultural heritage.
Africa has vital PCAs which provide food and water security, erosion and flood control, disease control, climate regulation, carbon sequestration and a host of other critical ecosystem services which underpin human welfare and wellbeing.
However, these PCAs are grossly underfunded According to the IUCN, Africa suffers a shortfall of 80% – 90% on available funding for PCAs management.
At the congress, there have been calls for the development of a fund dubbed A Pan-African Conservation Trust (A-PACT) to help mobilize resources for the conservation of Africa’s PCAs, in addition to leveraging on other funding instruments including the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and Nature Africa programme.
“The lessons shared regarding various innovative financing mechanisms discussed in the congress provide good opportunities,” Ndang’ang’a commented.
BirdLife is the world’s largest conservation partnership with over 10 million members and supporters, and over 115 national partners worldwide (25 in Africa) – one per country.
Environment experts have estimated that the planet is facing loss of 83% of animal species and 50% of plant species occasioned by human activities.
To change the situation, they recommend the conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) which contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity across terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems.
Under the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) currently under negotiations, one of the key aspects championed is the effective management of a scaled-up system of protected areas covering 30% of the planet’s land and ocean areas by 2030, which focus on KBAs and other areas of importance for biodiversity.
A key outcome of APAC, which concluded on July 23, 2022 was the Kigali Call To Action, which calls for the identification, recognition and empowerment of all custodians of nature in Africa , including IPLCs’, women, youth, working with governments, civil society, and private actors to lead the way in conserving Africa’s rich biodiversity through protected and conserved areas.
The Call to Action, underlines the need for more public and private financial investment in the conservation of protected and conserved areas, while championing the role of PCAs as nature-based solutions to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.