Dear CIC members, ladies and gentlemen,
As the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia, I take great pleasure in addressing you in the framework of the upcoming CIC General Assembly and international conference: Crossroads – Leading the Way on Wildlife Conservation.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) of Namibia is honoured to host this conference and General Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia from May 2-4, 2019.
The title of the conference stems from a global wildlife conservation situation that we hope is at a crossroads. What we mean by this is that many different wildlife conservation approaches have taken shape over the past decades. These are primarily the result of different dogmas, ideologies and practices. Ultimately however, all of these approaches have a common aim: conserving wildlife.
Despite successes worthy of celebration on all sides, the approaches may even contradict one another at times. With approaches working against each other, and the conflicts that arise, this results also in a loss of efficiency. This is of big concern, especially when we know that limited funding and resources are available for wildlife conservation.
This conference is intended to provide a platform for various actors from around the world to present their approaches to wildlife conservation, and importantly their visions for its’ future. The conference is intended to bring together different wildlife conservation approaches and views, to understand the different paths that actors have taken, and to ultimately work towards better cooperation and coordination in our efforts. Ideally, we should find ways of working together towards our common aim. For this, we would need respect and understanding between various parties, even where significant differences in views are apparent.
Namibia as a country has its’ own examples of wildlife conservation successes which it will present during the conference. These have already been recognised globally including through prestigious awards such as the CIC Markhor Award in 2012. The Markhor Award celebrates outstanding conservation performance that links the conservation of biodiversity with human livelihoods through the application of the principles of sustainable use as part of wildlife and ecosystem management. Namibia’s wildlife conservation approach has its’ foundations in strong community engagement and support for wildlife conservation. Sustainable use has played an important role in building acceptance among the communities.
Namibia is today a country that still offers incredible wide-open spaces, and habitats for all species to roam freely. Despite the growth of the country’s human population, its’ elephant population has increased from 7,000 to 23,500 over the last 20 years, the lion population in the northwest has increased from 20 to 150. The country has the world’s largest free roaming populations of cheetah and black rhino, and well over 70% of Namibia is under one or other form of conservation management. We have more wildlife in Namibia today than at any time in the past 150 years.
However, the Namibian wildlife conservation example is just one approach. Through the conference we encourage examples of other successful approaches from around the world. No doubt there will be many commonalities between them. We are looking to draw on these commonalities and to resolve any differences so that we can help define a common, cooperative and shared path for the future of wildlife conservation.
I sincerely hope that we are at a crossroads and that the different paths can meet and converge in the same direction for the ultimate good of wildlife conservation!
I look forward to welcoming you to Windhoek and wish you all successful deliberations!
With warm wishes from Namibia,
Honourable Minister Pohamba Penomwenyo Shifeta
Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia