DEA concludes the AfriMAB southern Africa sub-regional workshop

29 August 2017

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has today, 29 August 2017, concluded a two day African Network of Man and Biosphere Reserves (AfriMAB) sub regional workshop, in Saldanha Bay, Cape Town.

South Africa was elected for the second time to coordinate AfriMAB Southern Africa sub-region workshop during the AfriMAB General Assembly held in Ghana in November 2015. As the coordinator, South Africa seeks to strengthen the Southern African Biosphere Reserve network through facilitating capacity building and sharing of good practices and lessons learned in effective nomination process, implementation to derive maximum benefits while conserving biodiversity, natural resources and management of the Man and Biosphere Programme.

The Southern African region, has suffered considerably from the impacts of climate-change/ variability, among them floods and droughts that are threatening economic growth/development and jeopardising livelihoods. As a result the region is grappling with poverty, water, food and energy security issues.

The MAB strategy 2015-2025 and Lima Action Plan 2016-2025 offer opportunities to member states and stakeholders to urgently meet the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular through exploring and testing policies, technologies and innovations for the sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources, as well as mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The workshop also responded to the objective of AfriIMAB created by the "Regional Conference for forging cooperation on Africa's Biosphere Reserves for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development" in Dakar, Senegal in 1996, to promote regional co-operation in the fields of biodiversity, conservation and sustainable development through trans-border projects, which are primarily based in biosphere reserves.

Over 40 participants comprising of high level policy makers from the Ministries of Environment in  the sub-region, UNESCO National Commissions, National MB Committee members, SADC Secretariat, UNESCO-ROSA, AfriMAB continental, local governments, community representatives, universities, private sector and NGOs from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania are  attended the two day workshop.

Delivering the key note address on behalf of the Minister of DEA, Ms Skumsa Mancotwya, Chief Director of Protected Areas System Management, said the workshop was a significant milestone for the country as a coordinator of the sub-region. “We created a platform for stakeholders from government, private sector, non-governmental organizations and community representatives, as well as business community to share information and good practices on the establishment and management of Biosphere Reserves in the sub-region, by using existing functional biosphere reserves in the sub-region to explain the programme.”

“For more than 40 years, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves have added value to sustainable development and conservation in many countries. As we celebrate 72 years of UNESCO’s existence, today we are proud that the World Network of Biosphere Reserves enlists 669 Biosphere Reserves in 120 countries. As we are all aware, despite limited resources which continues to define life in our region, AfriMAB is responsible for 74 Biosphere Reserves in 28 countries, representing approximately 13% of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, she said.”

The AfriMAB Southern Africa Sub-regional workshop will also serve as preparatory meeting for the AfriMAB General Assembly meeting scheduled to take place in Abuja, Nigeria from 11 - 15 September 2017. Recommendations and action plan will be made to AfriMAB General Assembly to enhance effectiveness and impact of Biosphere Reserves in the region.

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