By Josephine Akaerr, Special Correspondent
The Government of Rwanda will in March 2022 host the inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) to discuss conservation of the continent’s protected areas. This comes after the relaunch of APAC in Kigali, Rwanda on 20th April 2021.
The congress which will be held from 7th – 12th March 2022 will be convened by the Government of Rwanda, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) in collaboration with partners.
Speaking at the relaunch event, the Chief Guest Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment – Republic of Rwanda said: “Having been an IUCN Member since 2016, Rwanda is very proud to take up the global conservation leadership mantle and become the first African country to host the African Protected Area Congress. The Government of Rwanda recognizes the role of protected and conserved areas in ensuring the conservation of nature, sustaining ecosystem services and promoting sustainable development. We are indeed hopeful that through these efforts and deliberations obtained through the congress, Rwanda and the rest of Africa will be on the right trajectory towards recovery of our protected and conserved areas.”
Key conservation organizations and development partners have been actively engaged in the planning process for APAC, the first of its kind continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, businesses and interest groups to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature and promoting sustainable development in Africa.
Deliberations convened around the themes Protected areas, People and Biodiversity aim to generate pathways that build and empower the current and the next generation of leaders to realize an African future where wildlife and wildlands are valued as an asset that contributes to development.
IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Luther Anukur said: “Protected and conserved areas play an important role in securing the resilience of ecosystems to help Africa build back better from COVID-19 and to reduce risks of future pandemics. APAC is a joint effort from conservation partners and African leaders. It is expected to contribute to 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.”
“One major lesson we have drawn from the past year is that overnight transformational change is possible. A different world, a different economy is suddenly dawning. Through this continental partnership, Africa will be able to present a unified front towards delivering a lasting balance between people, prosperity and our planetary boundaries. African Wildlife Foundation takes great pride in the central role we are playing to raise an African constituency in conservation and this congress is one of the major steps towards achieving this,” said AWF CEO, Kaddu Sebunya.
Through the congress, all partners hope to achieve African leadership commitment towards creating a unified African voice in conservation that will value African people and nature through effective protected areas.