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Former African heads of state named as patrons conservation congress


Three former African heads of state have been named as Patrons for the upcoming Inaugural Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) to take place in Rwanda.


The three former heads of state unveiled by authorities in Rwanda are H.E Hailemariam Desalegn – former Prime Minister for Ethiopia; H.E Issoufou Mahamadou – former President Niger and H.E Festus Mogae – former President for Botswana.


The APAC congress will be held at the Kigali Conference Centre, Rwanda from March 7 to 12 2022.


The Congress’ major aim is to be the first ever continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, and interest groups to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature, safeguarding Africa’s iconic wildlife, delivering vital life-supporting ecosystem services, promoting sustainable development while conserving Africa’s cultural heritage and traditions.


Rwanda as an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Member since 2016, will be the first country to host this congress.


The gathering will focus on three key areas namely; Protected Areas, People and Biodiversity in a bid to deliberately foster dialogue that builds and empowers the current and the next generation of leaders to realize an African future where wildlife and wildlands are valued as an asset that contributes to development.


Speaking at the unveiling of the APAC Patrons,  the Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya  stated that It was critical for African nations and leaders to walk this journey together.

“The Africa Protected Areas Congress comes at a time when there is growing global attention on our strained relationship with nature. We are not investing enough in the natural systems we depend on. US$700 billion more is needed for biodiversity each year, less than 1% of global GDP. Africa spends less than 10% of what is needed to protect and restore nature. Protected areas must have access to the financing required for effective management and thus fulfil their role in providing essential biodiversity protection and ecosystem services for people and development,” Dr Mujawamariya said.


Mr Kaddu Sebunya, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Chief Executive Officer said that through the congress, there is renewed hope to achieve African leadership commitment towards creating a unified voice in conservation valuing African people and nature.


“Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame alongside the three Patrons and former Heads of State, we are confident that APAC will provide the best opportunity for elevating the plight of conservation and protected areas across the continent’s leaders.  This is why at AWF, we have made it our primary responsibility to support African governments and people willing to chart futures that embrace wildlife and wild lands, hence our partnership with the Government of Rwanda and numerous governments across the continent,”  he said.


In his address, IUCN Regional Director – Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr Luther Anukur said Protected and Conserved Areas play an important role in securing the resilience of ecosystems for which Africa’s economies and people depend upon.


“APAC is a joint effort of African leaders and multiple partners seeking to contribute to African Union’s Agenda 2063 of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena,” he said.




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Ms Pamela Amia is a Multimedia Journalist, Conservationist and traveler.


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