Environment, tourism protocols key to SADC development

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) says the implementation of protocols in the sectors of environment, wildlife, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries and tourism are key to fast tracking the development of the region. 

The Ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Tourism met from 23 to 24 November 2017 in Pretoria. 

The meeting reviewed the overall state and performance, as well as new developments in the environment, wildlife, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and tourism sectors. 

All 12 SADC Member States, with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Seychelles, attended the meeting co-chaired by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana. 

Minister Xasa said the meeting fleshed out issues that affect the sectors of environment, wildlife, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries and tourism. The commitments made at the meeting would strengthen SADC’s contribution to sustainability, inclusive growth and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063. 

Speaking on the progress made towards the SADC Industrialisation Strategy, Deputy Executive Secretary Thembinkosi Mhlongo said apart from managing the region’s natural resources, various value chains must be explored to get the full benefit these resources provide.

According to the Ministers, limited resources had impacted the implementation of programmes in the areas of fisheries, forestry, tourism and wildlife conservation and law enforcement. To combat this stagnation, a charter establishing the Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre in Mozambique was signed. 

In addition to establishment of a coordination centre, Ministers approved the establishment of the Regional Financing Facility for SADC Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs). 

In the areas of environmental management, members were urged to speedily ratify the Environmental Management protocol, which has not entered into force. South Africa, as the host country for 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP 17), was commended for a job well done.   

Discussions at the meeting also highlighted the need to implement the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), which member states are party to. These include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United Nations Convention Combating Desertification (UNCCD). 

In a bid to increase tourism within the region, the SADC Secretariat and the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) were directed to increase marketing of conservation areas. 

“Ministers directed the SADC Secretariat, in collaboration with Member States, to fast-track the review of the Protocol on Tourism Development in SADC, the RETOSA Charter and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SADC Secretariat and the RETOSA Secretariat to incorporate changes.” - SAnews.gov.za