Visit included fruitful meetings with Minister of Environment Dr. Paula Francisco and other key officials about GDSA's proposals for conservation and sustainable development of the critical Okavango basinRead More
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.
©CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL/PHOTO BY DAVE CLIFT
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.