July 15, 2024


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IUCN Africa Conservation Forum officially opens in Nairobi

By Kanamugire Emmanuel

Nairobi-Kenya: The Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife in Kenya, Dr. Alfred Mutua, has officially opened the IUCN Africa Conservation Forum (ACF2024) in Nairobi. Dr. Mutua emphasized the importance of investing in biodiversity conservation and encouraged collaboration between the government, private sector, and local communities.

Over 500 delegates are in attendance for the three-day forum, which has brought together IUCN Members and stakeholders from across Africa and beyond to discuss biodiversity, conservation and the sustainable development challenges faced by the continent.

It was organised under the theme, ‘African Solutions for People and Nature’, the Forum aims to catalyze impactful change across the continent by fostering collaboration among Governments, NGOs, local communities, private sector and international organizations, to develop transformative responses to the biodiversity and climate crisis in Africa.

The Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife in Kenya, Dr. Alfred Mutua, addressing the participants

In his opening remarks, Dr. Mutua emphasized that the forum serves as an excellent platform for exchanging information and expertise, fostering partnerships, and uniting key stakeholders across Africa with a shared goal.

He highlighted the importance of addressing the biodiversity and climate crisis in the region through transformative measures, attributing the crisis to human interference with nature.

Dr. Mutua expressed optimism in developing African-led solutions and stressed the significance of investing in biodiversity conservation initiatives, as well as promoting collaboration among government entities, the private sector, and local communities.

Participants attending the opening of the IUCN Africa Conservation Forum in Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya has long been at the forefront of conservation efforts in Africa. It is renowned for its vast and diverse landscapes, from the iconic savannas of the Maasai Mara to the lush forests of the Aberdares, and the stunning coastal reefs of the Indian Ocean.

However, during the last climate change that initiated drought, it lost over 300 elephants, giraffes, gazelles, among other wild animals.

This country is dedicated to protecting this biodiversity, ensuring that it continues to thrive through the initiative to plant and grow 15 billion trees by 2030. This initiative aims to increase the forest cover to 30 percent, reflecting their dedication to combating climate change and preserving the natural environment.

Dr. Grethel Aguilar, the Director General of IUCN, emphasized the importance of unity among African voices in conservation efforts, stating, “the voices of Africa are more impactful and powerful when united.”

“Africa is a continent with exceptional people and natural resources. Biodiversity and thriving ecosystems have allowed people to satisfy their basic needs, such as food, water and medicine. This is essential for our economies and societies, and ultimately for our well-being. To conserve and protect this astonishing nature, it is clear that we need all sectors coming together, from agriculture, finance, infrastructure and many more, because the environmental sector cannot continue to journey alone”, She said.

“By joining forces, governments, civil society, as well as indigenous peoples and global communities, can overcome the linked biodiversity and climate crisis. Together, we can create solutions that help people and nature thrive.” Dr. Grethel added.

Dr. Grethel Aguilar, the Director General of IUCN, emphasized the importance of unity among African voices in conservation efforts

She hails the role and power of the youth in nature conservation, which gives an image of how their activities will bring about a remarkable impact on the continent and beyond.

“This is a young continent, where the median age is 19 years old. By 2030, more than 40% of the planet’s youth are expected to be in Africa. By 2050, one in four people on the planet will be from this continent. It is clear that Africa’s united voices will have an enormous effect on the planet’s future. So let us also remember that one quarter of the world’s biodiversity is in the hands of this continent. This ranges from the Congo Basin forest, which is one of the green lungs of the earth, to the 30,000 kilometers of coastlines that hug these shores and support the lives of millions.” She said.

Razan Al Mubarak, IUCN President emphasizes that environmental protection and climate action are not only a nice thing to have, but also a fundamental for growth, prosperity, peace and security and for sustainable future.

“This forum brings a milestone across the continent to find local solutions for a complex challenges and opportunities. We are here also as IUCN members to shape IUCN we want, and IUCN we need at this critical junction for our planet and for our future.”

Mr. ALI KAKA, IUCN Councillor, noted that this Forum prepares the World Conservation Congress in Abu Dhabi in 2025 where Africa has to tell the world that it has challenges and the solutions as well.

“Let’s not keep going in these congresses saying, oh we have problems, let’s teach the world that we do have solutions for our continent in conservation.”

The event, held under the theme ‘African solutions for nature and people – creating transformative responses to the biodiversity and climate crisis in Africa’, gives participants the opportunity to use the Union’s platform to amplify their voice and influence policy at regional and global levels.

It is one of several IUCN Regional Conservation Fora, held across the globe this year, that offer Members an opportunity to shape the agenda for the IUCN World Conservation Congress, to be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2025. The IUCN Congress in turn sets the global conservation agenda for the years ahead.

In the past, the three IUCN sub-regions of Africa, under the auspices of Eastern and Southern Africa (ESARO), West and Central Africa (PACO) and the Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (MED), each held their own Regional Conservation Forum.

This year, inspired by the impact of the first-ever IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress held in July 2022 in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, IUCN hosts one Forum for the entire continent.

Africa is facing significant challenges due to the dual crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss. The continent is severely impacted, necessitating the need for coordinated nature-climate action at the regional level.

Oscar NZABONIMPA, Action pour la Protection de l‟Environnement et la Promotion des Filières Agricoles (APEFA) attended ACF

Dr Deo Ruhagazi, from RWCA- Umusambi interacting with some of the Participants

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