1. Agenda 2063, under Aspiration 1 ‘A prosperous Africa based oninclusive growth and sustainable development’, emphasizes the importanceof the environment and ecosystems, including wildlife and wildlands, as critical to the overall prosperity and development of thecontinent. The environment directly supports the livelihoods of mostAfricans, with a large proportion of the continent’s population beingdependent on subsistence agriculture, untreated water, wood energy, andbuilding materials sourced from the environment. Conservation of wildlife hasalso global benefits, leading to the enactment of various internationalinstruments, including the United Nations Convention on BiologicalDiversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of WildFauna and Flora and the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals. 2.
Africa’s rapid economic growth, leading to higherstandards of living and a reduction in the percentage of people living inabsolute poverty, is widely reported. Less widely reported oracknowledged is the fact that over the past 20years, the continent has experienced devastating losses of its uniquewildlife heritage. For example, Lions, that were once numbering 50,000continent-wide around 2005, are now estimated at closer to 23,000. Africa’s elephants, which numbered 1.3 million in 1970, dropped to around600,000 in 2005 – due to poaching pressure, their numbers arenow estimated at around 470,000. Of Africa’s five subspecies of rhinos,one has been declared extinct in the last two years.
As Africa has grown,its ecological resource base, on which future generations depend, is beingeroded. 3. Losses in species diversity and richness of naturalresources, ecosystem functioning and services will have an adverseimpact on the efforts to achieve sustainable development. Againstthis backdrop, renewed efforts for the conservation of Africa’swildlife and wild lands is crucial.
With a clear agenda, Africa can bothdevelop economically and conserve its key wildlife and wild lands. 4. Global security is not a topic that comes immediatelyto mind when speaking of conservation, but there are common underlying threatsto security and to biodiversity.
Heavily armed, interconnected, and fundedsyndicates of traffickers operate across a range of illicitmarkets, including illegal arms, human trafficking, and wildlife products.The agenda for strengthening security and protecting biodiversity is shared.Additionally, there is mounting evidence that resource conflicts resulting fromecological degradation is an underlying driver of peace and securitychallenges, particularly in the case of water and land resources and in thecontext of Transboundary systems. Linked to this is the evident impact oferosion of these natural resources on migration. 5. At its 27th Ordinary Session, inJune 2015, in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Executive Counciladopted decision EX.
CL/Dec.879 (XXVII), through whichit endorsed the African Strategy on Combating Illegal Exploitation andTrade in Wild Fauna and Flora and called upon Member States andAfrican Union partners to support and facilitate itsimplementation. The African Common Strategy aims toprevent, reduce and eventually eliminate illegal trade in wild flora and faunathrough a coordinated response by all countries. As a follow-up,the Commission developed, in September 2017, a monitoringframework for the implementation of the Strategy.
Steps have also beentaken to popularize this Strategy, while a Memorandum ofUnderstanding was concluded with the African Wildlife Fund (AWF)to support its implementation. 6. These efforts need to be scaled up. In the periodahead, I intend to enhance coordination among all concerned entities within theAfrican Union system to ensure the effective implementation ofthe Strategy.
The Commission will also reach out to Member States toincrease awareness and assist national efforts to protect wildlife and wildlands. Furthermore, the Commission will proactively engage internationalpartners, both bilaterally and within the framework ofmultilateral fora, to champion a developmentagenda having conservation at its core. In a nutshell, theCommission will endeavour to inspire, educate, and empower investors anddevelopment partners with options that provide safeguards for sustainableinvestment decisions.