SADC ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources Management have called upon key stakeholders and local communities to fully participate in efforts to strengthen the management of the region’s natural resources in particular, combating illegal harvesting of elephants and rhino.
The call was made during their meeting held in Maputo, Mozambique on October 03, 2013 where the ministers noted with concern, the high rate of poaching of elephants and Rhino. The ministers reviewed progress on the implementation of regional policies, strategies and programmes in the environment and natural resources sectors. They agreed on a regional common position for the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP19) negotiations scheduled to take place in Warsaw, Poland in November 2013. They underscored the need for the region to consolidate its position and speak with one voice.
The ministers also underscored the contribution of natural resources and the environment to the socio-economic development of the Region. They noted that the SADC Region is endowed with rich fisheries and forest resources and hosts the largest populations of elephants and rhino. However, these resources are threatened by illegal harvesting, over exploitation and the negative impacts of climate change.
They approved the Protocol on Environment for Sustainable Development. The Protocol aims to enhance the protection of the environment, promote equity and sustainable utilisation of natural resources, promote the shared management of trans-boundary environment and natural resources, promote effective management and facilitate effective and coordinated responses to the impacts of climate change and variability.
The ministers also approved a number of programmes developed to address environmental and natural resources challenges in the quest for sustainable development. These include the Waste Management Programme that seeks to facilitate the effective management of waste, the Forest Law Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme that aims to ensure regulated trade in Timber and the Regional Biodiversity Action Plan that is expected to reduce the loss of the region’s biological diversity and facilitate the restoration of the region’s rich ecosystems and their biodiversity.
The meeting observed, with deep concern, the negative impacts of climate change on the region including increased frequency and severity of droughts, floods, cyclones and sea level rises.
However, the meeting noted, with satisfaction, that most of the decisions taken at 16th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which took place in March 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand, were favourable to SADC.
It also welcomed the outcomes of the just ended 11th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertification that was held in September 2013, Windhoek, Namibia and resolved
to implement the outcomes and align the SADC Subregional Action Programme (SRAP) to the UNCCD
ten-year Strategy. The meeting was officially opened by Hon. Dr P O A C H I N G Alcinda de Abreu, Mozambican Minister for Coordination of Environmental Affairs, and was chaired by Hon. Halima Daud, MP and Minister of Environment and Climate Change of the Republic of Malawi.
It was attended by 11 SADC Member States, namely, Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.