- Africa has adopted its first comprehensive regional treaty on natural resources, environment and development. The new treaty today was hailed by international environmentalists, saying African nations were showing a "growing commitment".
African nations have received a 'road map' to manage their natural resources more sustainably with the recent adoption of a landmark treaty by the Heads of States of the members of the African Union. The revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources was approved by the African Union summit on 11 July in Maputo, Mozambique.
The treaty commits parties to, in particular, improving soil conservation and introducing sustainable farming practices at a time when desertification threatens more than one third of the continent’s land area.
Water resources are to be managed collaboratively by nations in the case of transboundary resources and ecosystems, also taking into account ecological processes, for instance by preventing excessive abstraction to the benefit of downstream communities and States. Out of 263 shared river basins worldwide, 59 are found in Africa.
The revision of the 1968 Convention, first called for in 1980, brings the treaty up to date with the latest developments in international law, and the move towards sustainable development. The treaty will enter into force once 15 African states have ratified it.
- The decision by Member States of the African Union to endorse the revised Convention gives voice to the growing commitment of African leaders to conservation and sustainable development, said Achim Steiner, Director of the conservation group IUCN, in a statement today.
It had also reflected "decades of investment in conservation under difficult economic circumstances," Mr Steiner added. "The Convention sends another signal to the international community that Africa needs to be supported in its efforts to conserve natural resources both for its own peoples, and also in the context of global environmental needs."
The concept of conservation areas, incorporating the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories, had been embedded in the text of the Convention. Africa has an outstanding record in establishing conservation areas, with some 2 million km2 under some form of protection.
- The adoption of the new African Convention is particularly rewarding to IUCN; not only does the new text update the protected area concept according to state-of-the-art approaches, says David Sheppard of IUCN, "it also reflects IUCN's vision for such areas."
- The upcoming Congress will also be a platform to put the Convention in the limelight and promote its ratification, he added. A number of key global leaders are expected in Durban this September, including South African President Thabo Mbeki and Former President Nelson Mandela, IUCN reports.
IUCN and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) had provided technical assistance throughout the revision process, and are recognised by the African Union in the Resolution adopting the Convention.
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