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Strategies for enhancing opportunities from biodiversity
- Biodiversity and development challenges in Africa

While significant challenges for researching and managing biodiversity in Africa remain, there is enough information available to give broad but concrete direction to the development of national, sub-regional and regional biodiversity policy.

Multilateral agreements

Many multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) exist to promote biodiversity protection. Most African countries have ratified the Ramsar Convention (protecting wetlands of international importance), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). These global MEAs are complemented by sub-regional and regional agreements, such as the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ACCNNR) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Environmental Initiative. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) saw convergence on a shared vision of sustainable development as a way of alleviating poverty, raising human well-being, and simultaneously meeting biodiversity protection objectives. Recognition of the administrative burden that the multiplicity of environmental agreements places on resourceconstrained governments has prompted a desire to rationalize their implementation. Among the conclusions of the WSSD was that the link between the conservation of natural resources and economic development in Africa is particularly close.

The CBD is particularly focussed on biodiversity. It has three objectives:

  • The conservation of biodiversity;
  • The sustainable use of its components; and
  • The equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biodiversity.

Realizing any one of these objectives is dependent upon the other. This requires adequate political and legal instruments to appropriately allocate access, benefits and costs and to make linkages between different environmental sectors as well as with development sectors. Such an approach is discussed in Interlinkages: The Environment and Policy Web in Africa. Partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, and the technical and scientific community play an important role in conservation planning and policy. Such partnerships are also critical to the success of implementation efforts.

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