African Protected Areas Congress: A Watershed Event For Africa's Parks And Wildlife

The first African Protected Areas Congress (APAC) is scheduled to convene in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 18-23. The International Union for Conservation of Nature-World Commission on Protected Areas has partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and a broad range of conservation groups to organise and facilitate this gathering.

The overarching goal of the Congress is to position Africa’s protected areas within the continent’s broader goals of sustainable development and community well-being. The APAC will advance an ambitious agenda to inspire sustainable solutions for Africa’s most pressing conservation and livelihood challenges, and has been designed, in part, to emphasise the increasing relevance of protected areas to human welfare and well-being.

The official kickoff of the Congress is Valentine's Day, and is being tagged "For The Love Of Nature." 

It’s anticipated that more than 2,000 delegates representing every African country, including political and community leaders, protected area practitioners, professionals from diverse fields, scholars and researchers, youth, and partners and stakeholders from public and private sectors will attend the November Congress to discuss how to protect Africa’s resources, and to develop a strong, united voice for protected area management, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development.

Participants will work to identify key issues and challenges facing protected areas; develop priorities and strategies for issues of common interest; create partnerships and make commitments to help Africa’s protected areas, people, and biodiversity; and showcase inspiring examples of practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions that meet conservation and human development goals.

The agenda will include addressing a new paradigm for protected areas, defining and advancing the role of governance, sustainable financing, capacity development, private and community conservation trends, conflicts, social equity, and benefit sharing.

The products and results of this effort will support the guiding vision of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena. Agenda 2063 is a 50-year strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the African continent.

The Congress also will help develop and consolidate Africa’s input to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, a product of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The CBD is an international treaty with three main goals: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of biodiversity; and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Its overall objective is to encourage actions that will lead to a sustainable future. A Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 was developed under the CBD, and now groundwork is being laid for the next 30 years.

The APAC organisers look forward to welcoming youth, governments, businesses, communities, and people from beyond the conservation world to put their heads together to develop a common vision for Africa’s protected areas. The efforts of delegates, and the outcomes of the Congress will represent substantive investments into the sustainability of protected areas throughout Africa, now and into the future.

Source: National Parks Traveler