Stakeholders meet in Pretoria to discuss the Gaborone Declaration on sustainability in Africa
15 September 2015
The Department of Environmental Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Wildlfie and Tourism of the Government of Botswana and the Gaborone Declaration on Sustainability in Africa Secretariat (GDSA) on Tuesday, 15 September 2015, hosted a national GDSA roadshow in Pretoria, South Africa, to update a wide range of stakeholders on progress and developments on the roll-out of the implementation of the GDSA.
The function of the GDSA Secretariat is being performed by Conservation International, an American-based non-governmental organisation, appointed in December 2014, following a decision by the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism that the function should be outsourced.
The GDSA emanated from the Summit on Sustainability in Africa in Gaborone which was hosted by President H.E. Iain Khama of Botswana, to stimulate high-level dialogue among selected African leaders on matters related to sustainable development and Africa’s natural capital. The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, represented President Jacob Zuma at the Summit, which was organised by the Botswana government in conjunction with Conservation International.
The 2012 Summit had demonstrated the ability of African nations and their investment partners to understand, manage and value natural capital and the inclusion thereof into national accounting.
The meeting adopted the GDSA, to which all ten participating African nations – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Liberia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Gabon, Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda – had committed themselves to socially equitable and environmentally sound economic growth that is imperative to achieve human development goals in Africa.
The Declarationreaffirmed the commitment to implement all Conventions that promote sustainable development, including African Conventions, United National Conventions, the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Policy adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It also reaffirmed the participants commitment to the Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20 and the relevant AU Decision on Africa’s opportunities and challenges of the Green Economy as adopted by the Assembly of the African Union at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in July 2011.
The Declaration had noted that the historical model of natural resources exploitation had failed to promote sustained growth, environmental integrity and improved social capital and that economic growth and human well-being in Africa would be threatened if concerted action to halt and reverse the degradation and loss of healthy ecosystems and biodiversity is not undertaken. There was also recognition of the need to enhance society’s ability to adapt to climate change and environmental risks and scarcities.
A follow-up meeting of the Summit for Sustainability in Africa in Gaborone in October 2013 confirmed the commitment of the participating countries to the value and contribution of natural capital and ecosystem goods and services to their economies and provided an opportunity for the signatory countries to report on progress on implementing the GDSA.
In order to assist countries to develop a vision for pursuing the commitments of the Gaborone Declaration, the GDSA Secretariat is conducting road shows to all individual countries and successful meetings have already been held in Rwanda, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, and Mozambique.
At the meeting held in Pretoria government stakeholders the Secretariat presented the five proposed outcomes to be pursued under the GDSA and informed government stakeholders from the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Rural Development and representatives of the minerals and water sectors, and community representatives, about initiatives being undertaken in other participating countries that contribute to the Gaborone Declaration.
These are as follows:
- Sustainable Development Planning, including the incorporation of sustainability in sustainability objectives in national development planning and decision-making processes;
- Natural Capital Accounting, where the value and contribution of ecosystems and natural resources is fully integrated into decisions and policies
- Environmental-Economic Monitoring, to ensure that decisions are supported by evidence-based systems and measures that respond to and reflect environmental impacts and contributions
- Demonstration of best practices and scaling up of environmental programmes which support and contribute towards other economic sectors
- Corporate leadership, where all sectors, including public, private and civil society are engaged to accelerate transformation of business models and processes towards sustainability
The meeting provided South Africa an opportunity to present some of its sustainable development, green economy initiatives such as the Green Economy Modelling Report, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Goods and Services programmes to the GDSA. The meeting concluded by reaffirming the GDSA as an instrument to advance sustainable development, promote green economy and support natural resource accounting programmes in signatory countries and within Africa as a whole and undertook to enhance implementation of key objectives of the Declaration.
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