DELEGATES POSE FOR A PICTURE DURING THE HIGH-LEVEL SOUTH-SOUTH POLICY EXCHANGE IN COSTA RICA (© ROWAN BRAYBROOK)
By Benson Kibiti & Ally Jamah
April 2019 – From March 28-April 7, 2019, the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) and Conservation International (CI) facilitated a six-day High-level South-South Policy Exchange for senior government officials from GDSA member country Uganda to Costa Rica.
Led by Hon. Sam Cheptoris, Uganda’s Minister of Water & Environment, the delegation included Mr. Alfred Okidi the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Water & Environment; Mr. Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; and Dr. Tom Okello Obong, the Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority. Others included Mr. Collins Oloya, the Director of Environment Affairs for the Ministry of Water & Environment; Dr. Joweria Galabuzi Nambooze a Lecturer on Food Security at Kyambogo University; Mr. Mike Butseya Maliro the Regional Manager for Western Region at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority; and Professor William Otim-Nape the Chairman and CEO of the Africa Innovations Institute.
They were accompanied by Dr. Peter Alele, Africa Field Director of CI’s Vital Signs program and Rowan Braybrook, CI’s Senior Policy Manager. The exchange was funded by SwedBio. Before heading to Costa Rica, the delegation spent a day at CI’s Head office in Arlington, Washington D.C. where they engaged with CI staff on Natural Capital Accounting, Sustainable Coffee, Ecosystem Mapping and conservation.
In Costa Rica, the delegation met with key officials of the government including the Minister of Environment and Energy Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez. The delegation focused on Costa Rica’s approaches to ecotourism, financing conservation efforts and managing forests and farms in the same landscape.
Costa Rica is a leading ecotourism destination in the world due to its conservation efforts and strong focus on sustainability. Using ecotourism as a driver to integrate sustainable practices with economic prosperity, Costa Rica has created a positive environment for its communities and its tourists while setting a good example for other destinations around the world; and with implementation of financial mechanisms such as a Payment of Ecosystem Services (PES) and REDD+ programs, both the people and the environment have the ability to thrive simultaneously while, in turn, positively contributing to the economy.
The delegation was particularly struck by the level of integration between different sectors in Costa Rica; for example, agriculture, environment, and tourism sectors were tightly linked not just in the same landscapes but often in the same project.
This model of integration was experienced firsthand when the delegation visited LifeMonteverde, a working farm that produces high-quality coffee, conducts educational and tourism programs through its association, maintains a portion of its land under forest cover, and showcases sustainability initiatives like biogas on its farm. This level of integration allows for more efficient functioning, and also makes the benefits of conservation clearer and more accessible to a broad segment of society.
Key takeaways from the trip for the participants included the need by Uganda to adopt strong policy frameworks and implementation for effective environmental conservation, identify new sources of sustainable financing for conservation, use of alternative fuel sources to reduce rate of deforestation, and expand the scope ecotourism to include non-state actors to strengthen conservation efforts in the country.
The overall outcome of the exchange was positive, with interest and commitments from policy makers to transfer lessons learnt back to Ugandan national contexts as they committed to continue working with GDSA and CI to make progress on management of protected areas, PES, ecotourism, forest and biodiversity conservation.
For more information, email Rowan Braybrook firstname.lastname@example.org