May 20, 2024

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How IUCN APAC is set to create the space for private sector engagement across different streams and themes

Businesses need a healthy environment. The 2020 Global Risk produced by the World Economic Forum highlighted growing concern among business leaders of the consequences of continued environmental degradation including the record pace of species declines. Climate change, biodiversity loss, natural and human-made environmental disasters and extreme weather topped the charts of perceived risks in their annual survey. COVID 19 drove home the interconnected nature of human and natural systems, and brought the world to a global crisis of unparalleled proportion.

The risks are apparent and growing. At the same time there is growing consensus on the solutions at hand. Nature provides for us all and taking care of nature has returns to the bottom line and beyond. Protected and conserved areas serve as a cornerstone for biodiversity and the ecosystem services that are essential for the private sector. Africa’s network for protected and conserved areas provides clean water, pollinators, habitat for spawning fish and breeding wildlife, local climate regulation, and protection against natural disasters. An estimated 60Gts of carbon are locked in African conservation areas. The natural systems of the intact tropical forests of central Africa can store 200 tons of carbon per hectare or more. Conservation areas lower the incidence of the spread of zoonotic diseases and provide the raw materials for cures, as indigenous people and local communities across the continent have known for millennia.

In short, Africa’s Protected and Conserved Areas provide a wealth of solutions to key business risks. What’s more, businesses small and large are recalculating their dependence on, and investments in nature. Among international players, new requirements from the finance industry to disclose environmental risks are going to accelerate action. Among local enterprises, expectations from a growing movement of young African activists are reshaping markets and breaking old habits.

As the boundaries between conservation and development blur, there is a place for business at the table among the leaders shaping the future of protected and conserved areas in Africa. The Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) offers the private sector opportunities to engage in shaping the future of conservation and development and showcase a leadership role in the pursuit of biodiversity restoration for their benefit, for communities, and their investors in general by engaging in various events. There are opportunities for private sector engagement in the formal programme, side events and workshops, exhibitions (to highlight products, conduct events) as well as in congress sponsorship.

APAC will create the space for private sector engagement across different streams and themes (on panels, as key note speakers, as moderators), as well as make the space for side events and stands. APAC can help private companies better understand the linkages between conservation and their core business, as part of longer-term business sustainability and offer platforms to share best practice, for example, through panel or summit sessions on how the private sector can contribute to conservation.

Championing conservation will help enhance competitiveness and influence investor choices and APAC offers a strategic opportunity to promote the private sector as a vehicle for conservation innovation in terms of use, management and sustainability while creating awareness that the private sector has a wider and different constituency. For example, companies could help market APAC to their constituency, or become an official APAC champion (partner, brand) for certain products linked to the Congress such as supply of water and internet.

APAC can help create the space for private sector engagement across different streams and themes (on panels, as keynote speakers, as moderators), as well as make the space for appropriate side events and stands. APAC can help private companies better understand the linkages between conservation and their core business, as part of longer-term business sustainability, as well as offer platforms to share best practice for example, through panel or summit sessions on how the private sector can contribute to conservation.

Business security that considers social and environmental sustainability will support capital preservation, sustainability, and how we better address pandemics such as COVID-19. APAC is a chance for the private sector to take leadership and proactively shape private sector engagement with conservation, thereby informing and influencing Africa’s conservation vision and agenda in the coming years which is a key outcome of APAC. The private sector will be invited to participate in articulating the ‘Kigali Call to Action’, a declaration that will inform all stakeholder engagement in Conservation on the continent.

Source: IUCN APAC

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