Africa Protected Areas Congress marks a historic commitment for African conservation

About the Author

Kaddu Sebunya has been chief executive officer since January 2019, after serving as the AWF President beginning in January 2016. Kaddu has over 20 years of conservation experience at the grassroots, national, and regional levels in the US, Africa, and Europe. Today he leads the organization in… More

At the start of the inaugural Africa Protected Areas Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, I addressed over 2,000 delegates about what we stand to gain if Africa comes together and revalues its natural capital, ecosystems, and biodiversity. By the close of the historic congress on July 23, 2022, my optimism had redoubled; not only had I spent the week connecting with experts in conservation, development, and finance from all over Africa and the world, I had also engaged with African leadership to realize that African-led conservation is the key to the continent’s green economic growth.

As a participant and CEO of African Wildlife Foundation, who co-convened this historic congress with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this is what makes me proud.

The Kigali Call to Action centers people in conservation

AWF pledged its support to the Kigali Call to Action for People and Nature — a commitment by all participants of the Africa Protected Areas Congress to strengthen Africa’s protected and conserved areas equitably, particularly by including indigenous people and local communities and youth. The document recognises that all custodians of nature in Africa must be equally empowered for the continent to reach its conservation and development goals and that financial investment in protected and conserved areas must, too, be African-led, with innovative mechanisms to boost sustainability and growth.

As we embark on implementing these commitments, AWF recognises the guidance and visionary leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame, President Issoufou Mahamadou, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Obasanjo, and President Festus Mogae thus far and looks forward to their continuous mentorship.

> Read the Kigali Call to Action

Rwanda pledges its support for A Pan-African Conservation Trust

Launched at the opening ceremony of the Africa Protected Areas Congress on July 18, 2022, A Pan-African Conservation Trust (A-PACT) is a bold financing mechanism that narrows the gap in protected area funding. Rwanda, a leader in green growth and sustainable development, is the first country to put forward a financial commitment to supporting A-PACT.

A Pan-African Conservation Trust grew from collective action and partnership from the Africa Protected Area Directors (APAD), a network formed by AWF at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to develop homegrown solutions to fund Africa’s protected and conserved areas.

> Learn more about A-PACT

African storytellers bring conservation heroes to the center stage

In seeking to shift the conservation and development narrative at the Africa Protected Areas Congress, AWF collaborated with Nature, Environment, and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) to highlight the power and fresh perspective young African filmmakers bring to conservation stories. We premiered three conservation-themed films created by young Rwandan and Kenyan filmmakers who passed through African Conservation Voices, AWF’s intensive training program in partnership with Jackson Wild. The films shone the spotlight on conservation heroes in Kenya’s Maasai Mara — a young scientist specialising in rehabilitating vultures and a poacher-turned-guide. In Rwanda, the story of mountain gorilla tourism focused on a woman porter’s journey to provide for her family and protect an endangered wildlife species.

At a panel discussion on July 21, 2022, three additional three films by produced in South Africa by NEWF fellows were shown. The lively Q&A session that followed underscored the power of local stories to inspire, while bridging science and culture in way that shows the continent’s interconnectedness.

> Learn about the African Conservation Voices program

AWF strengthens relationships with African youth network and civil society organizations

As various perspectives and industries converge for the future of our protected and conserved areas, the Africa Protected Areas Congress was a fitting occasion to cement our support for the Global Youth Biodiversity Network - Africa and the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance. Our rich history with both groups is especially important as we enter into the last stretch of negotiations before the Global Biodiversity Framework is adopted at the U.N. biodiversity conference later this year.

> Learn how we supported youth participants before the Africa Protected Areas Congress