Wildlife as an asset for economic growth

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Economic Development

Gallery
  • Image of an elephant crossing a busy road in Botswana.
  • Image of Kaddu Sebunya, AWF CEO speaking at The Global African Investment Summit.
  • Image of a herd of water buffalo crossing a busy street.
  • Image of development in Cameroon.
  • Image of a zebra crossing a road in Namibia.
  • Image of a family of elephants crossing a busy road at night in Botswana.
Overview

Mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into economic growth.

Development and economic growth should and must continue, but long-term success will only be achieved by maintaining an effective conservation agenda with robust support for ecosystem services integrated into well-planned development. Doing so will optimize development, ensuring that it benefits people and wildlife over the long term. African Wildlife Foundation strives to forge a uniquely African development model that gives wildlife and wildlands a starring role on the stage of Africa’s progress. We believe that Africa’s wildlife is a cornerstone for Africa’s development.

Drawing on decades of on the ground experience working with communities, governments, and the private sector to achieve conservation and growth simultaneously — and leveraging a unique global network of people and institutions passionate about Africa — AWF engages directly with governments, the private sector, and investors to develop economic and investment plans that maintain vital ecosystem services. On the ground, AWF works with local people and the private sector to follow business plans that benefit people and wildlife.

In 2015, with the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs), the world set an ambitious agenda to “leave no one behind” by 2030, and AWF’s core work supports “a flourishing life on land,” contributing to Goal 15. Given AWF’s commitment to developing conservation solutions that generate benefits for Africa’s people, AWF also makes significant additional contribution to goals 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, and 17.

Challenges

Economic growth too often comes at a cost to wildlife.

Poorly planned agriculture extensification, settlements, infrastructure development, and resource extraction are driving habitat loss and fragmentation at an alarming and unsustainable rate, leading to the loss of critical wildlife habitats, the degradation of forests, rivers, and grasslands, and ultimately the loss of the continent’s ecosystem goods and services upon which people and wildlife both depend. Without adequate training, technical support, and empowerment, African leaders risk decisions that rank short-term benefits above long-term growth, leading to environmental collapse.

Developing this way is a choice. The dominant narrative among decision makers is that this degradation is the “cost of progress” and that concern for wildlife is “someone else’s concern.” From a household level to statehouses, many believe that the transformation in Africa will, or even should, come at the cost of wildlife and wildlands.

In fact, the opposite is true, the services that are being lost underpin human well-being, political stability, and the continued economic prosperity that African leaders desire.

Solutions

We're helping to develop wildlife based economies by:

  • Optimizing development for wildlife and people.

    For over 60 years, AWF has been working on the ground to plan and implement practical land-use solutions to allow space for wildlife, manage conservation areas, and generate benefits for people from wildlife-friendly enterprises. AWF engages directly with leaders from governments and the private sector to understand the values derived from a balanced approach. We help them plan to avoid conflicts and where they cannot be avoided, help them offset their impacts, so there is no net loss.

  • Catalyzing wildlife-friendly development.

    AWF’s primary contribution to the global UN Sustainable Development Goals is to Goal 15 Life on Land, as it is the most closely aligned with AWF’s core mission. AWF’s holistic approach to delivering conservation in ways that generate benefits for people and embed economic incentives through enterprise endeavors, also allows us to makes significant additional contributions to several of the other development goals.

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