Focal Points play a critical role in coordinating and facilitating the activities of the Gaborone Declaration.
Signatory countries have nominated national Focal Points as the primary point of contact for Gaborone Declaration matters and as liaisons with the Secretariat. The Focal Points are involved in communication, information dissemination, representation, collaboration with stakeholder groups, and monitoring, promoting and/or facilitating national implementation of the Gaborone Declaration.
Learn more about the Focal Points and their diverse experiences and perspectives through interviews conducted at the Focal Points meeting in February 2016.
Mr. Rodrigue Abourou Otogo
Rodrigue is Director of Environmental Law in Gabon’s Ministry of Environment and also interim Focal Point for the GDSA. He is happy that Gabon is working with the GDSA Secretariat in order to achieve its commitments related to sustainable development and climate change. He cites Gabon’s two year old sustainable development law and even more recent adoption of a national strategy on green growth as evidence of his country’s solid vision for sustainability as encapsulated in the GDSA. However, he acknowledges existence of great challenges especially in the form of a need to put in place commensurate institutional arrangements necessary for the country to implement many sustainable development projects that have hitherto been proposed. He said he had learnt a lot from fellow signatory countries during the Focal Points meeting and he would do his utmost to present and inform officials on next steps. He recommended that the Secretariat also do its part to further lobby and advocate for the implementation of the GDSA in Gabon. He pledged to keep in touch with the Secretariat in order to assist Gabon with implementing its part in the agreement.
Mr. Peter Dery
Peter is Deputy Director at Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, which is the government institution responsible for all issues concerning sustainability including coordinating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, SDGs and the Green Economy. As GDSA Focal point, Peter therefore believes he is well placed.
Peter believes the GDSA should be implemented within an African context. As a Focal point to the GDSA, he will use his ministry’s reach to rally all other in-country stakeholders to support activities of the Secretariat while also counting on the Secretariat to support in-country stakeholders on various initiatives tailored towards sustainability. Describing his role as focal point, he said “I serve as the first contact point and ensure that we continue to communicate constantly with the Secretariat and take up all issues regarding coordination when it comes to the GDSA”. He says: “Looking at what we have already done together so far, there is room for a lot more to be done and the future is a bright one."
Mr. Jeremiah Sokan
Jeremiah is GDSA Focal Point in Liberia. He is National Coordinator of Climate Change Secretariat at the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia. Given that the Declaration was signed in 2012, Jeremiah feels that things have been a little bit slow but he is happy that the Focal Points meeting provided the much needed traction. He believes that the GDSA is important to Liberia and that the President of Liberia, the only female African president, co-signed on to the declaration with a clear idea that Africa needs to take responsibility for its future in terms of its socio-economic and political expansion.
He sees the establishment of the Secretariat as a good starting point for the much needed coordination of signatory countries about their sustainability plans. He says the Secretariat will be instrumental in cross-country integration of the sustainability agenda as well as in the collection of information on the performance or adherence of countries to the GDSA principles. Moreover, the Secretariat will compile all innovative ideas and disseminate such information to all countries for the standardization of best practice.
Jeremiah is excited to be GDSA focal point and looks forward to working with Secretariat in the days ahead. "I have to commend Botswana for continuing to play a leading role towards ensuring that the foundational desire and intent of the GDSA becomes enforceable, visible as it is implemented in various member states in line with SDGs, the Paris Agreement and efficient ecosystem management principles.
Ms Teresa Magalhaes Pinto
Theresa works for Mozambique’s National Council for Sustainable Development and is Focal Point of the GDSA. She says the Council is the most appropriate host for the GDSA Focal Point as virtually all stakeholders working in the area of Sustainable Development are represented therein. That all five outcomes of the GDSA are already incorporated into the government programme of implementation attests to the commitment Mozambique has for attaining sustainability. She further said that the GDSA brings together all these initiatives geared towards sustainability. This she says inherently brings in serious challenges related to capacity and the Secretariat therefore needs to put more effort into working more closely with the Focal Points in their work of developing and monitoring implementation of activities in furtherance of the GDSA outcomes.
Mr. Olimpio Nhuleipo
Designated GDSA Focal Point in Namibia, Olimpio is a Chief Economist in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. He says the GDSA is a very relevant and timely initiative for Namibia which is a country with a strong conservation ethos and using natural resources to reduce poverty amongst over 200,000 people in communal areas spanning over 166,000 square kilometers. He intends to continue liaising with the Secretariat to assist Namibia with its NCA pilot project. Olimpio says he looks forward to working with the Secretariat in the area of capacity building and resource mobilization for NCA activities in the country. To this end, he expects the Secretariat to liaise with regional and international development partners to assist with the implementation of a sustainable development agenda amongst signatory countries. He says: "We believe in Sustainable Development and in using our Natural resources efficiently and that it is important that our people benefit from natural resources—for without these benefits accruing to them, we cannot have sustainability”.
Mr. Stuart Mangold
Stuart is Senior Policy Advisor for African Bilateral Affairs in South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs. Based in Pretoria, Stuart is also Focal Point for the GDSA. South Africa currently implements various programmes in support of the GDSA. These programmes, he said, particularly include work related to Payment for Ecosystem Services, Ecosystem Accounting, Biodiversity Economy as well as work on Natural Capital. He emphasized that South Africa would like for the Secretariat to not only improve alignment between the GDSA and Sustainable Development Goals as well as with Climate Change commitments coming out of the Paris Outcome but to also support signatory country action on the same. He expressed South Africa’s willingness and readiness to share lessons learnt or any experience they have had in the implementation of these programmes with other GDSA signatories and African countries in general. South Africa is happy that the Secretariat will provide that fulcrum and coordination necessary for such experiences to be shared and to meet regularly and discuss progress.
Mr. Geofrey Bakanga
Geofrey is the GDSA Focal Point in Tanzania. He is Principal Environment Management Officer in the Vice President’s Office, Division of Environment. As focal point of the GDSA, Geoffrey believes he is the first point of contact at country level to receive information and decisions from the GDSA Secretariat to all country stakeholders for implementation. Within the GDSA, he says Tanzania views the NCA component or outcome as the most important. The reason for this he says is because although Tanzania is well endowed with natural resources, investors in the mining sector have previously taken advantage of the ignorance of officials with regards to the value of our natural resources. The result has been continued exploitation of natural capital that fails to benefit the people of Tanzania. He reiterated that as GDSA Focal point he will duly facilitate dialogue amongst both high level policy entrepreneurs and grass roots stakeholders for better understanding of Natural Capital. Geofrey encouraged the Secretariat to seek a more sustainable financing mechanism for the GDSA activities as opposed to relying on outside funding. He also said it was important to ensure that the signatory countries wholly bought into the declaration in a manner that would ensure full recognition of the GDSA at African Union level.
All photos © Conservation International / Naomi Taylor