Zim to host AU-UN wildlife economy summit

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By Sinikiwe Marodza

Harare - More than 500 delegates, including African heads of state, will meet in Zimbabwe’s resort town of Victoria Falls for the African Union and United Nations wildlife economy summit slated for June 23-25. 

The summit, which will run under the theme, “Communities for conservation, harnessing conservation tourism, supporting governments”, is aimed at providing African states with a platform to share strategies on leveraging wildlife resources to revamp, boost and turn around African economies.

A United Nations delegation is expected to take part at the wildlife economy summit, as per the former AU chairperson President Paul Kagame’s call to engage the UN to develop a response to wildlife related issues and challenges in Africa.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management authority (Zimparks) spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo, said Zimbabwe was ready to host the summit, adding that it was of great importance for African nations to join hands and come up with great initiatives in terms of managing the wildlife population.

“We are looking forward to hosting the Victoria Falls summit and there is no doubt this summit is of paramount importance because it will provide a platform for member states to share strategies on leveraging wildlife resources to revamp, boost and turn around African economies. Africa is a future global economic growth engine and wildlife will play a key role.

“But this growth faces challenges, particularly the degradation of nature and human-wildlife conflicts which have resulted in loss of lives and livelihoods for communities.

“Loss of nature is not only a conservation crisis, it is also a human crisis, but when managed correctly, habitat and wildlife are critical resources that contribute to the economic and social health of communities, nations and the planet.

“Without doubt, African tourism is wildlife-based, hence the need to sustainably manage this God given resource for the benefit of our people, through job creation, infrastructure development, clinics and provision of medicines in these clinics” he said.

Farawo added that through this summit, the government of Zimbabwe and other African governments would share ideas on how best they could promote community tourism so as to create employment for people living in areas surrounded by wildlife.

“The Victoria Falls summit will ensure that government support sustainable conservation and create a conducive environment for investments, creating job opportunities, national wealth and to secure wildlife for the benefit of current and future generations.

“To attract this investment, the right operating environment needs to be in place and experts will work with government on how to deliver this, hence the call for dialogue and the summit next month is the right platform. 

There has been a clarion call to create wildlife economies on the continent because without doubt the major draw card for tourists in Africa is its rich wildlife resource.

“Already in Tsholotsho, in Matabeleland North province, Zimparks and other private players are building viewing platforms for tourists in communities and already the communities have been trained in tourism. 

 The same project is underway in Hwange where more than 100 buffaloes were translocated with the help of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), and all this is done to ensure that communities benefit from the rich wildlife resource near them.

“The summit will also ensure that there will be delivery of the Giants Club Conservation Investment Toolkit detailing the financial opportunities that nation states can unlock through encouraging sustainable conservation enabling investment,” Farawo said.

 

 

 

 

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