Press Release

African Negotiators Convene to Discuss Synergies within Wildlife and Biodiversity Interventions

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(GABORONE, BOTSWANA — May 20, 2022) As the world commemorates Endangered Species Day, over 60 African negotiators attached to the two main global bodies that set up key policies within biodiversity conservation — The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) — and the African Union group of experts on wildlife, have convened in Gaborone, Botswana, this week. The aim is to create a space for these imperative actors to harness the range of their perspectives and approaches to advance a common agenda and African priorities even beyond the conventions.

The 3-day hybrid working group sessions will be taking place on May 19-21, 2022, and will feature several collaborative sessions that seek to draw key lessons from both groups to align core strategies that advance the continent forward. The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism in Botswana, alongside the African Union Commission (AUC), have actively been involved in ensuring this engagement is not only successful but has an impact on the continent.

"We want to break the norm on how our resources are utilised," Honorable Minister Philda Nani Kereng — Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Botswana — emphasized as she officially opened the deliberations alongside His Worship the Mayor, Thata Father Maphongo. "Africa’s division has not been working for our good, thus, we must unite in one voice to ensure we are aligned to agree as a continent on the key interventions that work for us. Undoubtedly, we have the capacity to lead, we have homegrown experts, so we have to break the norm on how our resources are utilized and do it right."

The AUC has been leading the development and adoption of the African Strategy on "Combatting Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa," which forms a basis for better implementation mechanisms that should be adopted within the larger CITES mandate. Speaking at the event, Dr. Cyril Taolo, Chair of the AU Experts Group on Wildlife, stressed the need to make better use of our biodiversity as a continent to not only promote our development but to ensure it benefits our people.

"We must shift our focus from what divides us to what unites us to progress," AUC Director, Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy, Mr. Harsen Nyambe Nyambe said. "Working together makes us stronger. It is our hope that during this meeting we will adhere to the principle of unity of purpose so that by the end of this meeting we will have one voice."

In addition, Ms. Sakhile Silitshena Koketso, Head of Science, Policy and Governance at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighted the progress of the discussions so far in the lead up to COP15 and provided detailed reports on the targets and goals listed within the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

"This is a preparatory meeting and will contribute significantly on all time issues on biodiversity. It will be a basis for sustainable management and is an opportunity for African experts to present the key issues and proposed solutions that will contribute to Africa’s success," Mr. Ousseynou Kasse, the Chair of the AGN on Biodiversity, reflected in his remarks to plenary.

Civil Society Organizations have also submitted an opening statement accentuating their hopes and expectations from the ongoing discussions. One key call to action to the CITES negotiators is to form an African Group on Negotiators, similar to the CBD group, to elevate Africa’s voice on the global stage.

"This meeting should lay the foundation for greater dialogue between African experts on CBD and Wildlife. We believe that dialogue between conventions is necessary and can enhance their complementarity and enable African countries to strengthen outcomes for biodiversity. The future of our continent lies in ensuring we implement sustainable use of our natural resources with people at the center." Fred Kwame Kumah, Vice President of Global Leadership at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), reiterated this as he delivered the statement on behalf of select non-state actors.

The statement has been endorsed by The African Civil Society Biodiversity Alliance – ACBA, which represents over 80 biodiversity CSOs from all regions of Africa; Conservation International; TRAFFIC; The World-Wide Fund for Nature – WWF (Regional Office for Africa); and AWF.

MEDIA CONTACT: Eileen Kairu, Communications Officer, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) or Lesego Kgomanyane, Chief Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Botswana