Former Botswana President and GDSA Chair Joins Conservation International as Distinguished Fellow




By Ally Jamah

July 2018: Former Botswana President and Chairperson of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Dr. Ian Khama has agreed to lend his political and diplomatic weight to further advance sustainable development and wildlife protection in Africa by becoming a Distinguished Fellow for environmental non-profit  Conservation International (CI).

In his new role, Dr. Khama —who voluntarily stepped down from power at the end of March this year — will represent CI across Africa and build on his decades-long legacy of forging a more sustainable development path for the region.

Dr. Khama has been a driving force behind the GDSA and will continue to work with member countries of the initiative that seeks to enhance sustainable development in Africa. He will also engage more nations in the continent to align economic development with sustainability goals.

CI has been the secretariat for GDSA since 2014, providing technical and financial support for the 14 member-states of the initiative after the government of Botswana delegated the role to the conservation non-profit.

Dr. Khama will also work with the international community to combat the illegal wildlife trade through the Elephant Protection Initiative, a multi-national coalition of 18 African countries with CI being a co-secretariat. 

Building on his success in helping to make Botswana a beacon of sustainable tourism, Khama will also continue to provide leadership in ensuring tourism supports the region’s environmental and cultural heritage.

“What President Khama brings to Conservation International is immeasurable. For decades, he has provided us with a unique perspective as an exceptional leader who shares our commitment to securing nature for the benefit of people. We’re thrilled to continue to benefit from his vision and institutional knowledge to preserve Africa’s rich natural resources,” said Conservation International Chairman Peter Seligmann.

“Over 30 years ago, Conservation International was founded on the principle that community-led conservation was the approach that best benefited people and ecosystems. President Khama embodies this approach and has successfully led environmental initiatives in Botswana and the broader African region to implement this idea. We are honored to have President Khama continue to lend us his leadership and expertise as a Distinguished Fellow,” said Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan.

Launched in 2012, GDSA is an African-led inter-governmental action platform that emphasizes sustainability and incorporating the true value of natural resources in economic planning and development across member states.

GDSA members include Kenya, Gabon, Botswana, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

A number of regional and global platforms have endorsed the GDSA. These include the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA), and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.