In line with the commitments of the Gaborone Declaration, the GDSA Secretariat has been working with Conservation International to raise awareness about Payments for Ecosystem Service (PES) in Africa. Under the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) mandate, Conservation International’s (CI) Africa Field Division is implementing a series of pilot programs (primarily in Kenya) to promote sustainable development through innovative conservation finance. Experiences gained and lessons learnt from these will be shared with the other GDSA member countries moving forward.
In November 2016, CI's Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (Vice President, CI) was invited to speak at the Kenya Water Week, the tagline of which was: "From aid to trade: enhancing business partnerships and innovation for sustainable water and sanitation provision and irrigation in Africa." The invitation was extended to Carlos Manuel following an exchange visit by the Kenyan Members of Parliament to Costa Rica, organized by International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and hosted by CI.
During this week, the team had a number of very productive meetings with various government and donor agencies, and strengthened existing partnerships. Recognizing Carlos’ immense experience in setting up successful PES program, the Chair of the Environmental Committee of the National Assembly, Hon. Amina Abdualla, invited him to speak in Parliament to MPs, Ministry officials and media. The session lasted for an hour, and Carlos Manuel was able to explain about his experiences in Costa Rica, whilst sharing CI’s objectives in Kenya, specifically the Chyulu Hills. There was great interest from the MPs and many questions asked.
In addition, the senior Conservation International staff met with the Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu from the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as well as with the GDSA Focal Point. The meeting was requested to discuss CI’s work on PES and REDD+ in Kenya and touched on a range of topics related to CI and the GDSA’s work in the country. Cabinet Secretary Hon. Prof Judy Wahkungu expressed her great interest and wish to work more closely with Conservation International. She was also extremely supportive of the developments in the Chyulu Hills.
The GDSA participated in a CI-organized session at the 2016 African ESP conference, the theme of which was Linking Sustainable Development to Payments for Ecosystem Services: Exploring the Effectiveness of PES at Different Scales in Africa. The session featured speakers from Nature Kenya discussing local-scale PES for watershed protect, from the African Conservation Centre on PES for wildlife in communal Maasai land, and several talks from CI and GDSA staff about PES at different scales. Tiego Mpho (Policy and Program Manager, GDSA) also spoke about how the GDSA provides a regional platform for PES policy engagement. The session was attended by approximately 40 conference attendees.
Moving forward, the GDSA Secretariat aims to continue raising awareness about Payments of Ecosystem Services. As part of these efforts, the Secretariat recently published a brief on Innovative Conservation Finance as well as information about how it intends to promote knowledge exchange in this field.