Over 5,000 protected areas professionals and other interested stakeholders from the public and private sectors met in Sydney, Australia from November 12-19 for the once-per-decade International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress.
The East African Community was represented by the Deputy Secretary General, Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Jesca Eriyo. Hon. Eriyo is a member of the IUCN governing council. IUCN has a Memorandum of Understanding with the EAC and has been collaborating with the EAC Secretariat on biodiversity and natural resources conservation through the Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED) project that is supported by USAID East Africa.
The IUCN World Parks Congress is a landmark global forum on protected areas held every ten years. The Congress articulated the vital role of protected areas in conserving nature while delivering essential ecosystem services. Protected areas provide a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits to people and communities.
The East African Community is home to one of the highest concentration of mammals in protected and non protected areas, and on average tourism contributes 7 to 10% of the economies of the EAC member states. Despite this contribution, East Africa’s protected areas are threatened by poaching, illegal wildlife trade, habitat encroachment, deforestation and climate change.
Speaking at a high-level ministerial roundtable on the topic: How can we position protected areas at the heart of our economies and societies?, Hon. Eriyo told the Congress that managing and protecting ecosystems must be an integral part of development, and added that it is better to conserve rather than restore. On how protected areas should develop over the next decade, Hon. Eriyo stressed that it is crucial for countries to prepare Red lists of threatened species for every region and country to guide development. She added, “Create a framework and network for regional and continental Parks authorities to collaborate, share information, carryout enforcement jointly or collaboratively. Particularly in Africa, scale up trans-boundary ecosystems management and conservation.” Eriyo gave assurance of EAC’s commitment to supporting conservation initiatives in the region.
“Create a framework and network for regional and continental Parks authorities to collaborate, share information, carryout enforcement jointly or collaboratively. Particularly in Africa, scale up trans-boundary ecosystems management and conservation.”Hon. Jesca Eriyo.