ACBA and Chinese Civil Societies Discuss Sustainable Biodiversity Management

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ACBA and Chinese Civil Societies Discuss Sustainable Biodiversity Management

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On August 30, 2021, the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA) in collaboration with China’s Civil Society Alliance for Biodiversity Conservation (CSABC) hosted a third webinar focused on discussing sustainable management and use of wild species and agricultural and husbandry ecosystems.

Themed 'Towards human well-being and an ecosystem service-based economy,' the webinar attracted global viewers primarily from China and East Africa and delivered key lessons learned and best practices that can be adopted to promote sustainable use across different landscapes.

“The development of agriculture, protection of genetic resources, and benefit-sharing of genetic resources requires development models to be based on and match different regional ecosystems. The complex nature of agroforestry serves as a carrier for cooperation between multiple parties, combining people from different cultural backgrounds into a small community. It is about the lasting ecological maintenance, continuity of economic benefits, and inheritance of national culture,” Ms. Zhou Hongguo, a professor at Jishou University, shared.

From the discussions, there was a clear consensus that the living habits, production, and lifestyles of Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLCs) alongside small-scale farmers remain inseparable to the status of ecosystems. These interdependent and coexisting lifestyles are beyond the reach of other external agents. Although their roles are acknowledged as integral, communities are constantly faced with social, political, and economic problems that could easily be resolved by sustainably leveraging ecosystem services.

Dr. Tobias Nyumba, the Project Coordinator at African Conservation Centre, stated that civil societies are known to hold a lot of influence and resources, but a major problem is around the false perception of these CSOs as being anti-development. He emphasizes that this is not the case as these groups have the growing urge to work with project developers, program designers, and government stakeholders from the inception stages to ensure that we achieve sustainable development.

The outcomes of the webinar revolved around the creation of a common understanding of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and how communities can actively engage and contribute towards balancing the delicate relationship between conservation and sustainable development.

Ms. Lesle Jansen, the Chief Executive Officer at Resource Africa, gave a detailed report on the Rooibos case study highlighting how indigenous communities are still struggling for full recognition of their land rights and resources and the need for policies that aid in the assertion of their ownership. For example, Access and Benefit Sharing was a catalyst for the Khoi and San peoples to reconnect with their resources and land and was a helpful tool for them to unlock access to their full rights.