The world is celebrating the International Day of Biodiversity on May 22, 2021 with the slogan “We are Part of the Solution”. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is happy to join the world community in celebrating this International Biodiversity Day.
The economic mainstay of the IGAD region is agriculture and aquatic resources which in turn is mainly dependent on the biological diversity and its integrity. Sustainable management and conservation of biodiversity resources in our region is therefore the basis for our economic and social development.
We are further to note that this year’s slogan is similar with the aims and objectives the IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme (BMP), which did strive to address the challenges faced by our biodiversity in the region at different levels: namely local, national, regional and global levels. The IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme supported by the European Union started in November 2012 and was closed in May 2018 with a budget of 14 million euros with the following Result Areas:
• Development and harmonization of biodiversity policies and strategies;
• Conservation and sustainable management of transboundary biodiversity resources; and
• Development of national and regional biodiversity databases and information systems.
The Conservation component of the programme has a strong focus on three pilot cros-border ecosystems or demonstration sites:
• The Boma-Gambella Landscape (between South-East South Sudan and South-West Ethiopia)
• The Tana-Kipini-Laga Badana Bush Bush Land and Seascape (between North East Kenya and South East Somalia)
• The Lower Awash-Lake Abbe Landscape (between North East Ethiopia and South West Djibouti).
At local level, concerned communities should be part of the solution to sustainable management of biodiversity. Their involvement in sustainably managing the available natural resources and restoring degraded ecosystems is key to maintaining biological diversity in the region. IGAD BMP has shown local communities the link between sustainable management of and improved livelihoods in a cross-border biodiversity management setting. Promoting value addition activities on environmental resources such as honey, shea butter, and other dryland products by training local communities in production, harvesting, processing and marketing as means to improve and sustain their livelihoods, marks one of the most salient aspect of the IGAD BMP.
At national level, the Programme brought concerned member states together to integrate their actions in a sustainable management of biodiversity resources of the region. National institutions and entities including wildlife authorities, institutions in charge of biodiversity management, and Ministries dealing with environment protection jointly formulated and approved a Regional Biodiversity Policy and Regional Protocol to implement the regional policy in June 2016 and July 2017 respectively to enforce the sustainable management and conservation of protected areas in the region. In addition, other supportive regional strategies such as the IGAD Wildlife Management Strategy, the IGAD Invasive Species Control and Management Strategy, the IGAD Biodiversity Benefits Sharing Strategy and the IGAD Strategy for Domestication of Regional, Continental and Global Biodiversity Frameworks were endorsed in July 2017. In November 2017, a Protocol on Enforcement of Wildlife Laws in the Horn of Africa (HAWEN) was signed by Ministers in Charge of Wildlife Conservation of the region. HAWEN is an IGAD Specialized Network of Wildlife Conservation Institutions in the region.
Provisions of all relevant continental (African Union) and global commitments (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity), Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and Sustainable Development Goals (Sustainable Development Goals 141 and 152) related to the preservation of biodiversity are taken into account in formulating the regional biodiversity policy3 and protocol4 of IGAD. IGAD BMP therefore facilitated to bring together the different actors at cross border, national and continental levels to act in an integrated manner to address the challenges of biodiversity management in the region, so as to be part of the solution.
Beneficiaries. The total pool of beneficiaries that have directly benefited from the Programme is estimated to 5,338. A total of 2,865 individuals received training most of whom were community members living at those cross-border areas. Capacity building was an important activity area and government staff as well as small farmers were being trained or guided. One effect on local communities was improved awareness on biodiversity loss, and that influenced communities to participate and adopt biodiversity conservation and livelihood interventions.
Achievements. In addition to the achievement in developing and approving a regional policy, protocol and strategies to enhance sustainable conservation and management biodiversity resources, the project has also been successful in changing the livelihoods of the communities. To mention few.
• Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) established on Arta Beach in Djibouti
The Lower Awash-Lake Abbe Transboundary Conservation Landscape Joint Management Plan (LALA TBCL JMP)
• Seascape Management Plan for the Gulf of Tadjourah and Ghoubet el Kharab in the Republic of Djibouti
• Support in value chains Development – tapping into natural wealth of Gambella & establishment of CBOs for promoting value chains in honey and shea butter production, processing and marketing
Infrastructure development in the Gambella National Park
Based on the recommendations from evaluation of the first phase of the IGAD BMP, the EU has approved a second phase of BMP for 5 years (2021-2025) at a budget of 4.5 million euro, with main focus on the conservation and sustainable management of the hot spot transboundary Boma-Gambella biodiversity. The Boma-Gambella landscape consists of a mosaic of interacting ecosystems on either side of the South Sudan-Ethiopia border. The landscape is globally renowned for its diverse wildlife populations and its rare and threatened species.
IGAD partners, and in particular the European Union, has been part of the solution, not only by financing the BMP, but also other IGAD programmes that impact biodiversity management positively. Such projects are related to water development, fisheries development and development of the blue economy in the region.
There are on-going projects in the area of transboundary water resources management that help to co-manage the biodiversity and fish resources of shared waters, development of regional forestry policy that ensure the sustainable management of terrestrial biodiversity and the IGAD regional Blue Economy Strategy that focuses on the ecosystem, the economy and the society.
Currently a project proposal on enhancing the Blue Economy in IGAD coastal countries to protect marine biodiversity from pollution and other threats is under development with the support of Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The implementation of the project will lead to the sustainable development of the Blue Economy sectors, proper functioning of ecosystem and biodiversity, gender equality, increased socio-economic development, peace and security in the IGAD region, economic growth and increased resilience of the ecosystem and the communities.
Other partners such as Germany, USAID, Sweden, Canada, World Bank, AfDB, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, etc are providing support to IGAD in the implementation of the IGAD Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI)5. IDDRSI is an initiative to enhance resilience of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities against climate change and economic shocks through a number of regional priority interventions such as sustainable management of natural resources and the environment among others.
The region cannot afford to continue overlook this important global resource whose health is intimately tied to that of the local communities and national economies. Investing in biodiversity, conservation and sustainable practices is key for a peaceful and prosperous future for our region and beyond. At IGAD, we believe in sustainable biodiversity-based value chains, products and services to ensure a win-win situation on conservation and development.
Source: Intergovernmental Authority on Development