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The Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa Secretariat hosted a successful meeting of Focal Points at the Fairview Hotel in Kenya February 25-6. Representatives from ten African nations (Botswana, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda) gathered together in Nairobi to determine the way forward. The meeting achieved the following four objectives: discuss and agree upon the Secretariat’s work plan, share and agree on Terms of Reference for the Focal Points, agree on methods for enhanced communication between Focal Points and the Secretariat, and discuss fundraising and communications initiatives to support the advancement of sustainable development in Gaborone Declaration countries.
Opening remarks were made by the Governments of Botswana and Kenya. In the words of Government of Botswana Permanent Secretary Jimmy Opelo: “The Gaborone Declaration provides a platform for countries to share experiences in order to learn best practices from other Gaborone Declaration signatory countries as well as for each country to showcase what other countries can learn from them.” Mr. Richard Mwendandu, on behalf of the Government of Kenya, presented the Botswana government and meeting attendees with a copy of their recently completed Natural Capital Atlas. The Gaborone Declaration Executive Secretary Ruud Jansen provided an overview of the Gaborone Declaration Secretariat's activities to date. He discussed the modus operandi of the Secretariat and charted the way ahead. Presentations on the Outcomes were led by representatives from Conservation International (CI). Kim Reuter presented on Natural Capital Accounting (Outcome 2), which has generated great interest among Gaborone Declaration signatory countries for support and capacity building in this area, as well as Sustainable Development Planning (Outcome 1).
Jaco Venter presented on Gaborone Declaration and the Corporate Sector/Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (Outcome 4) and Environmental Monitoring/Vital Signs (Outcome 3). The afternoon focused on resource mobilization, providing an overview of and private funding, public funding and bilateral/multilateral funding opportunities. Finally, Tawana Babili (Gaborone Declaration Secretariat) presented on the JRS Biodiversity Foundation project and next steps. The day concluded with discussion and video interviews of all the Focal Points, documenting the focal points’ perspectives on emerging linkages between the Gaborone Declaration and sustainable development initiatives in their countries.
On the second day, CI VP and former Minister of the Environment Carlos Manuel Rodriguez presented on the Gaborone Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals, and a spirited discussion was held on how the Gaborone Declaration can help achieve these in the African context. Attendees then broke into groups by country and facilitation groups were held in ten areas key to the advancement of the Gaborone Declaration.
The remainder of the workshop was dedicated to the creation and refinement of the Nairobi Statement. The Secretariat’s work plan was accepted, with a commitment by the Secretariat to further align it with the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement (NDCs), CBD Aichi Targets and other international commitments. Focal Points accepted their Terms of Reference and committed to providing the Secretariat with information about ongoing and priority projects — civil society, private sector, or government-led projects — that fall within the scope of the Gaborone Declaration objectives, thereby better highlighting ongoing sustainability initiatives within the signatory countries. Time bound resource mobilization goals were set by the Secretariat together with the Focal Points. On communications, the Secretariat has committed to creating a platform for learning and exchange so that Focal Points can stay engaged and aware of sustainable development progress in all Gaborone Declaration countries.
The meeting was closed by the High Commissioner of Botswana to Kenya, Ambassador John Moreti, who expressed appreciation of the meeting results and the clear way forward.
Read the full Nairobi statement here. Presentations, photo galleries and other materials will soon be available on the website (sign up for email updates below to be the first to know). Congratulations to the Gaborone Declaration Secretariat, Focal Points and member countries on a productive meeting and a milestone agreement.