From 12th to 19th of November, the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 - the global forum on protected areas - took place in Sydney with over 6,000 experts participating at this event from over 170 countries. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) with its Transfrontier Conservation Areas also participated at this meaningful event to contribute their solutions to address today's global challenges on achieving wildlife and nature conservation across borders within the 15 member state countries.
The congress has provided a platform to share knowledge and innovation as well as setting the agenda for protected area conservation for the decade to come. Building on the theme “Parks, People, Planet: Inspiring Solutions”, it has highlighted successful pioneering approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the implementation gap in the sustainable development agenda by including people leaving within protected areas.
SADC TFCAs represented their most outstanding initiatives related to regional conservation in all streams through a variety of governmental and non-governmental delegates coming from most of the SADC countries. Two side-events were hosted for all participants that directly addressed the role of regional TFCAs to sustain human life and conservation with a focus on (1) income-generation through tourism and (2) the SADC TFCA online portal with possibilities to extend the network. To showcase the regional SADC TFCA programme and to provide a network hub for all participants coming from Southern Africa, an exhibition stand has been successfully organized.
Inter Press Service Africa documented the SADC TFCA participation at the event and published a daily journal on SADC TFCA highlights throughout the eight days of the congress (for access visit IPS Africa: www.ipsnews.net/news/regional-categories/africa/).
At this IUCN World Parks Congress, participants from governments, international organizations, the private sector, Indigenous leaders, communities and individuals came together building a group of environmental expertise that is world leading in the field of protected areas. In conclusion, participating at this once-in-a-decade event has been beneficial for all SADC-region delegates and did not only lead to spreading and exchanging regional knowledge on a global level but providing the ground for future achievements for Transfrontier Conservation Areas.