Is Africa dancing to a different biodiversity tune?


By KADDU SEBUNYA

It is undeniable that we are losing species and natural habitats at an unprecedented and alarming rate and yet we are not creating the much-needed prosperity for all that is required. However, not all hope is lost as world leaders and regional blocs such as the African Union acknowledge the need to have a green recovery plan that is sustainable and inclusive.

What distinguishes this decadal plan from the three past ones is the commitment to truly balance the three key Global Biodiversity Framework goals relating to restoring ecosystem integrity, meeting human needs, and sharing benefits equitably. At African Wildlife Foundation, we believe that the balancing act is a necessary condition for success.

In the previous decadal plans, there was little focus on the root causes of biodiversity as relates to consumption and production practices and behaviour. Biodiversity values were not clearly articulated as needing to be integral to policies, practices, planning and development and economic processes. Inadequate resources accelerated the challenges even further with an inadequate focus to rights and participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in high-level decision-making processes.

Earlier this month, the African Union launched its Green Recovery Action Plan that is premised on the notion that conservation can deliver benefits to people and nature. This goes to show the active commitment that the continent has to ensure that we actually implement these sustainable practices. Africa is forging her own path and is now ready to reaffirm their commitments towards building back better together.

Several stakeholders that have convened and discussed the implications of the next biodiversity targets acknowledge the positive steps taken across all ‘building back better’ strategies as they recognise that flourishing ecosystems contribute to good health. The main question however is where are the resources to ensure all these great targets are implemented successfully?

Both the UN and AU planning documents emphasise on the need to mainstream and integrate biodiversity values in policies, regulations, and development planning processes.

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This is not new in either of the two. What we must applaud is the fact that there is now a clear attempt to address root causes of biodiversity loss by referencing our joint and collective responsibilities for consumption and production.

An overall feature of the UN biodiversity plan that needs redressing is the lack of clarity on the indicators to track changes, hence laying bare the ability to monitor and track progress of the plan at different levels. Without addressing the means of implementation, the success of the framework can be seriously compromised.

We can only move forward with government buy-in, collective action and ensuring we elect informed leaders who understand the ripple effect of ignoring biodiversity and conservation issues.

Therefore, my plea to you as a global citizen is to take some time to read, comprehend and hold your leaders accountable.

Kaddu Sebunya is African Wildlife Foundation chief executive office



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