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. Over 100 presentations, workshops and side events related to Southern African protected areas, regional challenges and best-practice on management of nature conservation were held as well as hosted by more than 100 participants coming from the Southern African region. SADC Secretariat also participated at this meaningful event with its Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) programme – running under the Department of Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) - 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 World Parks 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 living within protected areas.
SADC TFCAs represented their most outstanding initiatives related to regional conservation through a variety of governmental and non-governmental delegates coming from most of the SADC countries. South Africa and Lesotho, for instance, presented their cross-border efforts on wetland restoration in the Maloti Drakensberg TFCA (South Africa/Lesotho) to combat climate change. SADC Secretariat hosted two side-events on income-generation through tourism addressing the role of regional TFCAs to sustain human life and conservation, and on the SADC TFCA online portal, a network that brings together all TFCA stakeholders to learn from each other and exchange information on TFCA management. An exhibition stand, that was the central hub for all participants coming from Southern Africa, showcased the highlights of SADC TFCAs and the success stories of the SADC TFCA programme.
The WPC was a good opportunity to bring the experts working in the field of protected areas closer together and to strengthen professional and personal relationships. The SADC TFCAs exchanged experiences and knowledge, especially with other transboundary projects and organizations involved in cross-border conservation management such as the transboundary operating European Green Belt initiative or the USAID Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP). The congress successfully increased SADC TFCA’s visibility on an international level and strengthened the growing role of Southern Africa with regard to protected areas worldwide.
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 and articles on conservation challenges the region is facing (http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/11/how-sadc-is-fighting-wildlife-crime/).
More detailed information on SADC TFCAs is now available on the SADC TFCA webpage http://www.sadc.int/themes/natural-resources/transfrontier-conservation-areas/:
In 2015, national and regional workshops are planned to bring the results, achievements and experiences from the IUCN World Parks Congress to the SADC region.
All updates with regards to the IUCN World Parks Congress can be captured under this project page.