Conservation still a crucial aspect of SADC economy

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says the sustainable use of environmental resources and conservation are causes that every country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) must champion to build the regional economy.

“Our people depend on healthy ecosystems and sufficient natural resources to support their livelihoods and the trade in illegally obtained resources undermines our efforts,” Minister Xasa said on Thursday.

She was addressing a SADC meeting of Ministers responsible for environment and natural resources, fisheries and aquaculture, and tourism in Tshwane.

Minister Xasa challenged delegates to work together to achieve the goals set in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting held in Johannesburg last year, CITES COP17, to promote and support a legal, well-regulated trade in wildlife, while at the same time combating poaching and the trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products within and out of the region.

“We must turn the tide on illegal wildlife trade as a matter of urgency otherwise it will continue to undermine the goals that underpin our region’s economic aspirations,” Minister Xasa said.

Given that climate change has been identified as one of the key contributors to continuing economic weakening decline, as floods and droughts affect food availability and prices, the Minister said it is all the more imperative for the region to effectively manage environmental resources.

“Biodiversity and ecosystems continue to play an important role in meeting the developmental objectives of our region. The biodiversity economy has grown in importance in recent years as it contributes significantly to the growth of gross domestic product and employment in all countries,” Minister Xasa said.

SADC must employ sufficiently trained conservation and enforcement officials to conserve and protect the region’s natural resources, not only elephant and rhino, but also the rich plant life and natural environment in general, the Minister said.

The SADC meeting is an opportunity to look at environment management, implementation of the SADC Law Enforcement and Anti-poaching Strategy and Transfrontier Conservation Areas. It will also review the current status of wildlife, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture and tourism sectors in terms of implementation of regional projects, programmes and strategies.

In 2010, the Ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources Management from SADC member states met on 16 July 2010 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The Ministers reviewed the performance of the environment and natural resources sectors, in line with the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and current global developments. –

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