From July 18th–23rd, Africa will convene in Kigali, Rwanda for the first-ever IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC). The aim of APAC is to position Africa’s protected and conserved areas within the broader goals of economic development as well as to increase the understanding of the vital role protected and conserved areas play in conserving biodiversity and delivering the ecosystem services that underpin human well-being.
The focus and delivery of the Congress is organized around three main thematic areas:
- Protected and Conserved areas focuses on the status and effective management of protected areas including policy related issues and the importance of ecological connectivity to achieve conservation goals
- Biodiversity focuses on the status of biodiversity and how it can be maintained in light of recent developments including pandemics.
- People focuses on the relationship between people and protected areas and how this can be enhanced to achieve mutual benefits. Two pre-Congress workshops enable (1) Indigenous People & Local Communities and (2) our youth to prepare themselves for meaningful engagement during the main Congress.
IFAW is pleased to co-lead in the People’s stream where we will showcase practical experiences from our work on the ground and our ambitious vision of animals and people thriving together with Room to Roam. Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) conserve—with rights and responsibilities—large areas of Africa’s conserved lands. This may be in the form of conservancies, indigenous and community conserved areas, sacred natural sites, or other models. They all serve an important role in conserving Africa’s biodiversity and ensuring ecosystems services are provided for.
Communities are at the heart of our conservation approach
For decades, IFAW has placed community engagement at the core of our work across the Room to Roam landscapes in Africa. In no other area of our work is healthy coexistence between people and animals more urgent and critical. Our efforts are solidly based on listening and learning, partnership and local leadership, inclusive participation, sustainable impact, and evidence-based engagement.
Many conservation efforts have relied on solutions that are externally created and managed, which is often costly and short-term. We see a better way.
We engage with those living closest to the animals and habitats we strive to protect to ensure positive and sustained change. We believe that protecting critical habitats drives long-term benefits for both wildlife and people. We embed conservation actions into local society, and culture and enhance leadership and participation at the grassroots level. It’s a bottom-up approach to create locally defined solutions for locally defined challenges.
We are committed to working respectfully and collaboratively with communities to find lasting solutions that work for wildlife, people and the animals under their stewardship. Next week we join APAC in bringing governments, private sector, civil society, academia and Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities together in important conversations that will help shape Africa’s future.