by Tiego Mpho, Program and Policy Manager, Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa
On 22nd March 2016, the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Secretariat convened and facilitated a meeting to brief heads of diplomatic missions and representatives of various International Cooperating Partner organizations resident in Botswana on the work of the GDSA. All in all, about twenty-four emissaries, representing Namibia; Kenya; Mozambique; South Africa; Botswana; Germany; France; Norway; EU; America; The United Nations; SADC; GIZ, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation and The World Bank, attended the meeting.
Facilitated by Mr. Disikalala Gaseitsiwe, the new Deputy Executive Secretary of the GDSA and Government of Botswana Liaison, the meeting first heard from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Mr. Elias Magosi. Mr. Magosi graciously welcomed all and gave a brief synopsis of the genesis and evolution of the GDSA particularly acknowledging the vision and call to action sounded by the ten GDSA founding Heads of State. He lauded UNDP and especially Conservation International for their indispensable assistance in setting up and sustaining the new Secretariat.
Following Mr Magosi’s opening remarks, GDSA Executive Secretary Mr. Ruud Jansen was called upon to elaborate further on the motivation, commitments, outcomes and partnerships of the GDSA thus far, as well as on the role and governance structure of the Secretariat. He announced several planned milestone developments and/or outputs as well as upcoming activities and events related to publicity and resource mobilization by the Secretariat. These include:
• Formalization of Uganda and Madagascar’s membership to the GDSA;
• Confirmation of Gabon’s GDSA Focal Point in the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development paving way for the country’s road show;
• Alignment of the draft GDSA work plan with the SDGs and Paris Climate Change agreement;
• Nairobi Statement on rules of engagement by Focal Points;
• GDSA Side event at the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) scheduled for April 2016 in Cairo, Egypt
• GDSA side event at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) scheduled for May 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya
Following Mr. Jansen’s presentation, a question and answer session ensued and focused particularly on: the extent to which the GDSA is aligned with both global and regional policies such as BIOFIN and SADC’s green economy strategy; Wildlife Enforcement Network of Southern Africa (WENSA); The World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) initiative; financial support to the Secretariat; factors limiting buy-in and proactive advocacy for the GDSA by other signatory countries besides Botswana. Mr. Jansen thanked participants for their inputs and assured them that the Secretariat had accepted their guidance. Closing the meeting, Mr. Magosi thanked all that attended the meeting and promised that his Ministry would continue its strong support of the GDSA.