NAIROBI, July 25 (Swara) – The inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) concluded in the Rwanda capital, Kigali, on July 23 with the adoption of the Kigali Call to Action, which emphasises the need for concerted efforts to boost the protection of the continent’s natural reserves and ensure that conservation measures are just and equitable.

Under the theme “For People and Nature” the Congress identified priority actions to strengthen Africa’s protected and conserved areas in a manner that is just, equitable and fair. The actions include strengthening the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, greater public and private financial investment in nature conservation and protected and conserved areas, and enhanced Pan-African collaboration, cooperation and partnership for protected and conserved area systems throughout the continent.

“Rwanda was proud to host the Africa Protected Areas Congress. We are glad it has been a success. We must put people at the centre of conservation if we are to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves and move to action,” said Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s environment minister.

The Congress was attended by more than 2,400 delegates from across Africa and beyond.

Bruno Oberle, IUCN’s Director-General stressed that the Congress had “highlighted that Africa’s protected and conserved areas are vital for nature and biodiversity, but also for African peoples’ livelihoods and cultures. It has formed an unprecedented and diverse coalition that includes governments and civil society stakeholders such as youth, indigenous peoples and local communities as well as protected area directors and rangers to strengthen protection and conservation,” he added.

“The Africa Protected Area Congress has further exhibited that the importance of conservation is non-negotiable. Therefore, we call upon all African governments to actualize their commitments to safeguard nature and actively engage with all relevant stakeholders in creating a Pan-African Conservation Trust that honours the strong statements within The Kigali Call to Action. Let us get to work.” said Kaddu Sebunya, the CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation.

During a closing plenary, representatives of youth and Indigenous Peoples groups delivered statements, followed by the formal adoption of the Kigali Call to Action and closing remarks by the co-conveners of the event, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the African Wildlife Foundation, and the Government of Rwanda.

Download the Kigali Call to Action here