Sept 3, 2015 Conversation on conservation
Africa is at a Crossroads, with wildlife populations under increasing threat, and development agendas at times in conflict with nature conservation.
Within this context, Rwanda has made significant progress in aligning an ambitious development agenda to be compatible with nature conservation.
This progress is demonstrated by the policies that have been put in place, establishment of a fund for environmental conservation and green economy (FONERWA), establishment of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management, establishment and improved management of Protected Areas with involvement of local communities, and a growing tourism industry that is dependent on the countries wildlife and wild places.
Twenty one years after the Genocide against Tutsi, it is an opportune moment to initiate a high level forum to discuss conservation trends, challenges and highlight Rwanda’s achievements in conservation, which remains attractive to world influencers and commands global attention.
To sustain the progress over the long term, there is need to take a clear look at identifying and addressing the challenges facing nature conservation in Rwanda within the regional and global context.
The story of Rwanda’s conservation indeed plays an integral part in sustaining tourism and Rwanda’s hosting this gathering in advance of the Gorilla naming ceremony (known as the Kwita Izina) is a confirmation of the country’s leading position in environment and wildlife protection.
This year’s Kwita Izina theme “Conserving now and for the future” reflects on what has been achieved in the past twenty one years and emphasizes the importance of conservation in the future. Through the theme, the socioeconomic development of communities living around the national parks as well as the role that tourism plays in Rwanda’s national economic growth are paramount.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in collaboration with partners organized a dialog titled “Conversation on Conservation”. The Conversation on Conservation was brought together and provide a platform for policy makers, conservationists, philanthropists, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and challenges related to the conservation, as well as the direction from His Excellency The President of the Republic of Rwanda about the vision of conservation and its role in Rwanda and the region’s continued development.
Scope of the conversation
In addition to above achievements, Rwanda successes in terms of conservation and development are celebrated every year through a national event that is organized by RDB where baby gorillas are named as an indication of performance of the country in not only conserving these rare species but to show case how the same species and conservation in general can contribute to the country’s economy when done effectively.
The Conversation on Conservation was centered around the theme of integration of nature conservation with development. The conversations was into two dialogues, with the entire event lasting for the half day.
The first dialogue was centered on the Conservation and Development. This dialogue was facilitated in a panel discussion. Prior to the panel, a keynote speaker presented the overall picture of nature conservation in terms of development, based on personal experience.
Panelists and the audience exchanged views, experiences and ideas on the following areas facilitated by a high capacity moderator:
- The role of conservation to Rwanda’ and regional’s in economic development;
- The role of Private sector, development partners and civil society in the national conservation agenda;
- Given the trans-boundary nature of conservation, how regional integration affects conservation efforts;
- How can we reconcile effectively land use and development with conservation;
- Is the current policies and institution set up conducive for conservation development;
- Does the country have the capacity to move forward the conservation agenda;
- How can we manage responsibly manage tourism to reduce impact on our fragile species and ecosystem.
The audience was given an opportunity to exchange ideas through questions to the panel facilitated by the moderator.
After the first session, the audience was invited for a coffee break then going back to the plenary for wrap up of the session and getting ready for the second dialog, which was focused on the visioning of conservation in Rwanda and the region.
The gathered audience was then receive Honorable Prime Minister , as the guest of honor. After reception by the moderator and introduction, Honorable was invited for the remarks from His Excellency The President of the Republic of Rwanda followed by interaction session with the participants facilitated by a moderator.
The following was covered during the conversation with Honorable Prime Minister :
- Conservation and national agenda (EDPRS 2, Vision 2020 and global perspective)
- Conservation and regional and global diplomacy
- Conservation and security
- Public private partnership for conservation
- Building individual and institutional capacities for achieving conservation and development goals
After the conversation, the Master of Ceremony closed the event inviting audience to a lunch preceded by a group photo.