SADC Ministers approve SADC TFCA Program 2023-2033

Steve Collins's picture
1 September 2023

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has launched the revised SADC Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) programme to develop a world-class network of transboundary conservation areas across the region. The 2023-2033 SADC TFCA Programme was approved by the SADC Ministers of Environment on 22 June 2023, after an extensive and inclusive process of stakeholder consultations and analysis.

The programme aims to support a functional and integrated network of TFCAs where shared natural and cultural resources are sustainably co-managed, conserved and recognised as a foundation of economic development, human well-being and improved resilience of people living within and around TFCAs.

The programme is aligned with the vision and key result areas of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which are global and regional frameworks for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

The programme has five goals, which are:

  • Integrated and effective management of transboundary landscapes and seascapes, using innovative approaches such as Integrated Land Management (ILM) and Marine TFCAs.
  • Improved well-being and livelihoods of people through agriculture, wildlife, fisheries, forestry, tourism, and other sectors, by developing strategies to secure and expand employment and livelihood opportunities in the Green and Blue Economies, supporting enterprise development and expansion of small businesses and cooperatives, and diversifying sustainable tourism products and experiences.
  • Strengthened Governance, Multi-Sector Partnerships and Regional Integration, by enhancing the institutional and legal frameworks for TFCAs, fostering collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders, and promoting the recognition and participation of local communities and indigenous peoples in TFCA management and decision-making.
  • Enhanced Knowledge Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, by establishing a regional TFCA information system, conducting regular assessments and reviews of TFCA performance and impact, and facilitating knowledge exchange and learning among TFCA practitioners and partners.
  • Increased Resource Mobilisation and Financial Sustainability, by developing and implementing a regional TFCA resource mobilisation strategy, diversifying and leveraging funding sources, and applying innovative financing mechanisms and instruments for TFCAs.

The programme is expected to contribute to the achievement of the SADC vision of a common future within a regional community that ensures economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice, peace and security for the people of Southern Africa.

The implementation of the 2023-2033 SADC TFCA Programme is undertaken at three distinct levels, namely at the regional SADC level, at the Member State level and at the individual TFCA level. At each of these levels there are established implementation and partnership modalities with a wide range of stakeholders, which the activities described in this programme seek to build on.

As part of the process to revise the 2013 SADC TFCA Programme, a series of workshops were held with SADC Member States to solicit inputs and to develop consensus on the categorisation and listing process of SADC TFCAs, as well as to consider criteria related to the functionality of TFCAs. Based on the outcome of the discussions, the revised TFCA category definitions are as follows:

  • Category A – Formalised: These are TFCAs with a legal mandate with clearly defined boundaries and established through a binding Agreement for the development of the TFCA by the Member States.
  • Category B – Proposed: TFCAs with signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and with a description of the proposed location. The MOUs provide for an interim arrangement that facilitates negotiations towards the signing of a binding Agreement to formally establish the respective TFCA.
  • Category C – Conceptual: These are TFCAs where Member States have an official intent to establish a TFCA, but no binding Agreement or interim MOU is in place.