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Conservation experts from the African Development Bank, development agencies, civil society, and regional governments met in Tunis, Tunisia on May 17-18, 2011 to identify and share trends and experiences to strengthen biodiversity conservation in Africa.
The AfDB convened the meeting in recognition that achieving international goals to conserve biodiversity requires working in partnership. As Amadou Bamba Diop, AfDB Conservation Biologist said: “You cannot manage resources you do not know. You will see there is a lot to do when it comes to knowledge...The Bank can play a key role, but we must coordinate…We can move faster if we draw from what is already there.”
Chief Environmental Expert as well as Officer-in-Charge of AfDB Compliance and Safeguards Division (ORQR.3), Mbarack Diop had the same opinion and said that the gathering of policy makers and practitioners is “a chance to mix practical experience with policy which translate the practice into our operations.”
The conclusions that emerged from the first day’s discussions included the importance of working with the private sector. A representative from the World Wildlife Fund emphasized that importance not only in terms of supply chains, commodities, and food security, but also in terms of access and benefits from biodiversity. He mentioned their work with “tuna canneries”, emphasizing that “businesses are now chasing sustainability.” “ They are concerned about food security and sustainability of their markets”, he observed.
Another theme that came out strongly was the need to measure the value of lost biodiversity and its potential, a point raised by Christoph Kohlmeyer, the German Executive Director at the AfDB, during his opening remarks. This was echoed by many participants throughout the day’s discussions. The German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) shared their work experience in the economics of biodiversity.
The participating organizations included Conservation International, Ethiopian Environmental Protection Agency, European Union, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Wetlands International, and the World Wildlife Fund. All participating organizations had the opportunity to deepen their work expertise and experiences during the “biodiversity marketplace” which took place on 18 May 2010. The seminar was co-sponsored by the AfDB and the GIZ.