The IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) opened its doors today in Kigali, Rwanda.
The six-day long Congress will look to define the future of African protected and conservation areas, positioning them within broader economic development and community well-being goals.
A wide range of stakeholders will be gathering in Kigali to discuss a number of key issues in this sector, including leading figures working in conservation, high-level government officials and representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). A CIC delegation will also be in attendance to provide expert scientific input while ensuring that the voices of IPLCs are heard.
Supporting measures that recognise and uphold the rights of IPLCs is among the seven key objectives of IUCN APAC.
This objective will be explored at several events and workshops throughout the Congress, particularly through the lens of issues such as community based natural resource management (CBNRM), human-wildlife conflict, nature-based tourism and wildlife crime.
Speaking on the importance of the Congress for people and conservation was Malidadi Langa from the Community Leaders Network, who is in attendance at IUCN APAC:
“There is thus a palpable desire among Africa’s IPLCs for IUCN APAC to initiate a serious discussion around a paradigm shift from the dysfunctional fortress conservation model to an inclusive one that puts people at the centre. Biodiversity conservation has work for people.”
Supporting the rights of IPLCs – while looking to facilitate their inclusion in international policymaking – has been a core pillar of the CIC’s work in recent years.
The organisation’s work in this field is reflective of the growing importance of IPLCs in managing our natural resources in today’s world. Numerous organisations and environmental conventions, such as IUCN and CBD, are now looking to integrate indigenous rights and knowledge into wildlife management policies.
This is among the reasons why the outcomes of IUCN APAC are so important, as the decisions made will have a real impact on the future of our planet.
Previous IUCN protected areas consultations conducted in Latin America and Asia failed to give IPLCs a real voice in the discussions and deliberations.
This is why the CIC decided to become an official partner at this year’s IUCN APAC, helping to ensure the participation and engagement of the IPLC delegates at both the pre-Congress workshop and the Congress itself.
IUCN APAC will culminate in the adoption of The Kigali APAC Action Plan, which will summarise the objectives and recommendations of the event.
Following the conclusion of Congress, the CIC will be providing a summary of the key outcomes from IUCN APAC, as well as what we can expect in the implementation of The Kigali APAC Action Plan.