Official statement: UAPDC Calls on African Leaders to Advance Environmental Protection
As the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 14) takes place in Egypt the founding members of the UAPDC take this opportunity to call on leaders across the African continent to step up their commitment to conservation and biodiversity by supporting the 30 by 30 campaign to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030.
As a continent we may have a history of natural resources being crudely exploited by others for short-term gain but today power is in our hands. Those leaders who continue to exploit them in the same manner and prioritise short-term profit are not serving the interests of our people but in fact betraying them.
Development gains can only be fleeting if they are not achieved in a sustainable manner. Reckless environmental management leads to the loss of biodiversity and declining wildlife populations and undermines our ability to protect communities, along with their food and water supplies, as well as their culture. More broadly it undermines our prospects for wealth creation.
Leaders have a responsibility to look beyond election cycles. The on-going loss of biodiversity in Africa is driven by a combination of human-induced factors and governments have a duty to act to promote and safeguard our natural resources. What does this mean in practice? It means to regulate and legislate; it means to educate and engage our people on how to protect our natural assets; and it means to invest and incentivise sustainable land use.
This is not just an African problem. Across the world we see the troubling impact as species disappear at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural background rate. However in Africa we have some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes known to man. Eight of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots are in Africa, from the coastal forests of Eastern Africa to the Guinean forests of West Africa.
In our mission to step up our commitment to conservation and biodiversity we can look to examples of countries that have already taken bold steps forward. In Namibia over the past 20 years communal conservancy enterprises have generated an estimated $81 million in financial and economic benefit for the country, for example.
Today travel and tourism contributes an estimated 8.1% of GDP to our continent, or USD 177.6 billion, as well as 6.5% of total employment, or 22.7 million jobs. If we want to protect our people then we have to protect the environment. Our reliance on agriculture necessitates it. Our potential for tourism requires it.