Why wildlife and wild lands should be at the heart of #EUAfricaRelations

| May 31, 2019

Africa is famous for its wildlife and wild lands. From the vast plains of Amboseli and Serengeti to the spectacular waters of Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta to the dense forests of the Congo Basin, Africa’s resource riches are well renowned. And in the interconnected ways of the world, Africa’s biodiversity is essential for life on earth, writes African Wildlife Foundation CEO Kaddu Sebunya.

But it is increasingly clear that that fabric of life on earth is coming unravelled, with people playing a devastating role in its destruction. A report released earlier this month by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) shows that human beings are fast making the planet too hostile to support life. A million species are in danger of extinction, many of them during our lifetime. In Africa, the number of species lost to human-related threats is increasing at an alarming rate.

On 25 May we marked Africa Day, a day of celebrating Africa and setting sights on the aspirations of a young and dynamic continent, where change is unfolding at an unprecedented pace. And while Africa Day is a day to mark a historic point of change in African and European relations – celebrating the independence of the continent from Europe and moving towards a more mutually beneficial relationship – the destinies of the two continents and their peoples are still likely to be written together.

Geographically, Africa and Europe are linked by the migratory routes of birds, insects and people. And while the waves of human migration into Europe have dominated recent thinking in Europe about Africa,  African ambitions for growth and prosperity are what is shaping events in Africa. In this space there is an emerging shared agenda between Europe and Africa for sustainable investment and jobs around which leaders are galvanizing. Job creation, trade, and investment aimed at sustainable and inclusive development are themes that resonate at the highest levels on both continents. ‘What happens in Africa matters for Europe, and what happens in Europe matters for Africa’. In this current exchange there is a recognition of Europe and Africa moving forward in a partnership of equals, with each building on the strengths of the other.

2019 is a pivot point for Africa EU relations, not only will the negotiations on the post-2020 Cotonou discussions shape the next 20 years of relations between the two continents but the new EU leadership in the form of the recently elected European Parliament and the Commission leadership makes for a renewed EU approach to this relationship.

It is this Parliament that will influence whether the destinies of Africa and Europe are locked into cycles of degradation and loss, leading to conflict and hostility or move bravely forward to a partnership that is resilient and restorative, leading to prosperity and vitality on both continents, and we for one hope it is the latter.

AWF envisages an Africa where wildlife and wild lands deliver for the people of Africa and the world. Our experience tells us that this is possible, through smart investments in businesses that restore land and habitat, by empowering Africans living with wildlife in wild lands to manage and own their natural resources, and by supporting African leadership to make the best decisions for Africa’s biodiversity.

In Cameroon’s Dja Faunal Reserve, for example, AWF works with EU support to invest in community enterprises that collect, process and market forest products for cosmetic, food and medicinal markets. The income enables people to pay school fees, medical care and better housing and inspires them to protect the forest system.

Let us work together to reset EU African relations to be resilient and restorative, inclusive and sustainable, vibrant and life giving – for all forms of life on earth.

 

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Category: A Frontpage, Africa, Central African Republic (CAR), EU, Kenya

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