African Leaders Chart New Course for Sustainability at Fifth Anniversary Meeting of GDSA

Maun, Botswana (October 13, 2017) – Ministers from 12 African countries announced today a new commitment to sustainability during a meeting marking the fifth anniversary of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA). The meeting also served to formally welcome Madagascar as a new signatory to the GDSA.

The GDSA is an African-led initiative that puts sustainability at the forefront of investment and economic development. Building on its progress over the last five years, a new Ministers' Statement announced yesterday calls for a renewed commitment to incorporating the value of nature in economic and social development decisions. Highlights include: 

• Madagascar officially joined the GDSA, bringing the total to 11 countries
• New governance framework, including a new Forum of Ministers that will further the work of the GDSA by ensuring close links among the GDSA countries in their move towards sustainability. Also, agreed to were joining guidelines, which now allow for a mechanism by which new countries can join the GDSA.
• Re-affirmation of the 11-country strong GDSA to the vision of an Africa where nature is managed sustainably to ensure human well-being, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement

"As the five-year progress reports show, we are collectively on the right track, but we need to scale up our efforts," said Lt-Gen Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama President of the Republic of Botswana and and Chairman of the GDSA, at the opening of the two-day ministerial meeting. Urging the attendees to be ambassadors of the GDSA, the President described his hope that the GDSA would expand to more nations and non-State partners in the next five years. "The vision of the GDSA is to ensure that the nature on which we depend for our wellbeing is valued, respected, and managed, not just for our generation but for future generations as well."

"In supporting the continued success of the GDSA, the Government of Botswana will review its conservation funding componenets towards availing further funding for GDSA activities," said Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Government of Botswana at the opening plenary. He further noted that, in the future, the GDSA, "will tighten the bonds between member countries as we work together, for our common purpose and vision."

The opening plenary was addressed by Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment. Mr. Solheim discussed future areas of cooperation between UN Environment, Government of Botswana, and the GDSA and encouraged Africa to look at ways in which tourism and renewable energy could be used in the continent's development. 

Michael O'Brien-Onyeka, Senior Vice President, Africa Field Division at Conservation International said,"Conservation International is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Government of Botswana and the GDSA member countries in organizing the Secretariat and in helping the countries progress towards the visionary goals of the GDSA."

Ruud Jansen, Executive Secretary of the GDSA said,"The GDSA is as valid today as it was in 2012. The Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement have given the Declaration added value and urgency. We look forward to welcoming the member countries to Botswana to deliberate on how to take this action platform into the future." 

The outcomes of this meeting were widely covered in television, radio, and print media outlets in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa.