As we move into the 2017 calendar year, the GDSA Secretariat has taken time to reflect on the activities and successes of 2016. For the GDSA, 2016 was a landmark year of increased momentum and high-level achievements; we highlight some of the key milestones below and in our 2016 Activity Report (available here).
Progress on the GDSA commitments
In 2016, the Secretariat made progress on all of the three commitments. Milestones included the launch of the GDSA natural capital accounting community of practice at a workshop in Nairobi (read more about the workshop here). Under the community of practice, the GDSA sent three government officials from Botswana, Ghana, and Liberia to attend a short course in December 2016 on environmental accounting in Canberra, Australia. In addition, the GDSA facilitated the initiation of a pilot ecosystem accounting project between Conservation International (CI) and the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In regards to sustainable production, the GDSA supported a wide range of activities that touched on everything from dialogue on the potential for sustainable bamboo and rattan industries to combat climate change, to organizing an exchange between the GDSA member countries and the Chinese National Energy Administration. Of course, the GDSA Secretariat also provided national-level assistance to some of the GDSA member countries. For example, in Botswana, the GDSA is facilitating the development of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) as well as supporting dialogue on payments for ecosystem services in Kenya. In 2017, the GDSA hopes to engage more systematically with the private sector and is currently drafting an extensive five-year strategy to guide these efforts.
Finally, under the third commitment and monitoring, the GDSA has renewed efforts on this commitment by establishing a partnership with Vital Signs. The resulting program – Vital Signs for Sustainability – will allow the GDSA Secretariat to explore how it can help member countries monitor their progress towards international commitments, like the Sustainable Development Goals.
Increasing the GDSA Secretariat’s operational capacity
As the GDSA Secretariat provides more services to its member countries, it is clear that the Secretariat’s capacity – both in staff and in partnerships – must increase. As such, the Secretariat welcomed three new staff members in 2016, including the Deputy Executive Secretary, a Technical Director, and a new Policy & Program Manager. In addition, the GDSA has developed partnerships with several entities to support work on sustainability across the GDSA; many of these partnerships will be formalized in 2017.
The next year will be one of milestones and next steps. The GDSA Secretariat is looking forward to celebrating the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration with expanded programming and renewed country-level outreach. This will of course be achieved via continued close cooperation with the GDSA partners. The GDSA hopes to end the year with an expanded set of partnerships across Africa and the globe, in support of the Declaration’s commitments. As always, the Secretariat is available to work strategically with the member countries on their respective sustainability goals.
More information about the GDSA’s activities in 2016 can be found in our most recent Secretariat Activity Report, which can be viewed here.