The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) will roll out a new strategy on April 22, 2020 that will guide the organization’s operations for the next 10 years. The launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day celebrations in a symbolic gesture to demonstrate AWF’s support for concerted efforts to create a healthier planet for all.
AWF’s new strategy is aimed at achieving three goals: to support and promote African-led policy, planning, and finance that leverage wildlife and wildlands as essential to development; to conserve, protect, and restore Africa’s ecosystems and the services they provide; and to conserve Africa’s wildlife in situ and reduce poaching and other forms of illegal wildlife trade.
Building on our 60 years of experience in conservation and development across the continent, AWF will ensure African leadership is integrated into all aspects of our holistic approach, and in so doing, ensure that conservation is mainstreamed into decision making related to economy building and sustainable development.
In the first three years, this new vision will be launched in four focal countries: Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, chosen for their vast natural resources, prevailing political goodwill towards conservation, and level of impact on wildlife and wildlands. These countries will be supported with more robust in-country staffing, infrastructure, and operations that include work developed in close partnership with national, regional, and local governments. We seek to be intentional about developing a model that can take hold in other countries as well.
AWF will be present in other countries and as well as regional institutions where we have specific contributions or contributions led by others, and we will continue our related pan-African and global initiatives.
The need to rethink AWF’s overarching strategy is informed by rapid changes characterizing modern Africa and their impact on wildlife and wildlands, including investments in infrastructure, rapid urbanization, climate change, population growth, and shifting demographics. In addition, global shocks such as shifting economic priorities and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have threatened the traditional reliance on external agendas for Africa’s wildlife and wildlands, making it a priority to build African capacity and support African leadership in the management of the continent’s natural resources.
AWF CEO Kaddu Sebunya said: “The time has come for Africans to step up and reclaim their rightful place in the management of their own natural resources. This is why AWF is committed to building African conservation leadership from the grassroots levels to the highest office, because our experience shows us that conservation cannot succeed without the participation of the people who live near wildlife and benefit from it.”
He also emphasized the role of youth in bringing AWF’s new vision to life, pointing out that a prosperous Africa depends on young people disrupting the existing systems that harm the environment.
Sebunya continued: “Young people are radical changemakers. We have identified them as a key constituent towards achieving our goals in the next ten years because they form the largest percentage of Africa’s population and the future of the continent must rest in their hands. With the right support, which AWF is prepared to give, they can redefine development and negotiate space for wildlife and wildlands in modern Africa.”
The new strategy comes at a time when the world is reeling from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has been linked to the consumption of wildlife, serving as a wake-up call to the fact that conserving biodiversity is integral to the survival of humanity. In order to contain the risk of future pandemics such as COVID-19 and other deadly zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, HIV, H1N1, and SARS, the world must protect the integrity of biodiversity and stop the illegal wildlife trade.
AWF is present in 15 African countries with programs focusing on wildlife conservation, land and habitat protection, community empowerment, and policy.
About African Wildlife Foundation
The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wildlands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wildlands.
For media inquiries, contact:
Director, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, African Wildlife Foundation
NOrumoy@awf.org or +254 701864021
Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, African Wildlife Foundation
PMitchell@awf.org or (202) 991-7508