Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism held a virtual meeting on 18 June 2021 to review progress in the implementation of sectoral programmes, strategies and projects under the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.
The joint meeting was attended by Ministers and their representatives from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The joint meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Land and Environment, Honourable Ivete Maibaze; and Minister of Culture and Tourism Honourable Eldevina Materula, both of the Republic of Mozambique.
Hon. Minister Maibaze recalled that when Mozambique assumed SADC Chairmanship at the 40th Summit of Heads of State and Government in August 2020, it adopted the theme, “SADC: 40 Years Building Peace and Security, Promoting Development and Resilience in the Face of Global Challenges”. The theme was to be achieved through selected priority areas such as implementation of concrete actions for consolidation of resilience to climate change, strengthening food security and implementation of actions to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
She also briefed delegates on progress made by Mozambique in the areas of forestry, climate change, biodiversity conservation and tourism, as part of the domestication of the Regional Integration Agenda.
The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, indicated that sustainable management, conservation and protection of the environment, natural resources, and tourism development are intimately woven into the fabric of the SADC regional development agenda, despite challenges including environmental degradation, climate change impacts, illegal harvesting of natural resources, and under-development of tourism, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the meeting, the Ministers approved the Advisory Paper on Management and Disposal of Stockpiles of Valuable Wildlife products and Trade Options beyond the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) regime; and agreed to develop a CITES long-term strategy to strengthen the SADC principle of sustainable use of natural resources to combat food insecurity, reduce poverty and increase economic gains.
The Ministers also approved the SADC Strategy on Forestry 2020-2030, and the guidelines on Regional Forest Information System (RFIS), Forest Fire Management (FFM), and Participatory Forest Management (PFM) to strengthen forest management and conservation, reduce deforestation and forest degradation to minimise the impacts of climate change and ensure sustainable development of the Region, with benefits to local communities and national economies.
They further approved the Revised SADC Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan to fully align it with the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063. They urged Member States to use the harmonised continental tool platform in reporting their National Determined Contributions implementation to comply with the Paris Agreement.
The Ministers approved the costed action plan and proposed human resources capacity, and resource mobilisation strategy to facilitate and fast track the implementation of the SADC Tourism Programme 2020-2030 to boost the regional economic growth which is heavily affected by the impact of COVID-19.
In their efforts to further develop and strengthen the SADC Region into a functional and integrated network of Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) where shared natural resources are sustainably co-managed and conserved to foster socio-economic development, and regional integration for the benefit of local communities, and national economies, the Ministers agreed to revise the TFCA Programme approved initially in 2013, building on the successes achieved since then, and on the challenges and lessons learned during almost 10 years of remarkable work.
The Ministers also agreed on the Draft Agreement Amending the Protocol on the Development of Tourism in SADC to take in consideration changes that have happened in the initial regional institutional framework to promote and strengthen the development of regional tourism, including the establishment of the Tourism Coordination Policy and the SADC Secretariat, and the winding up of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA).
They noted the progress in the implementation of the Sub Regional Action Programme to Combat Desertification (SRAP) and urged Member States to develop their National Action Plans to implement the SADC Great Green Wall Initiative in order to restore and sustainably manage land in the dry land areas of the Region to meet the dual challenge of combating ecosystems degradation, poverty and building resilience to climate change, and conservation of biological diversity.
The Ministers commended the International Cooperating Partners for their continued support in the implementation of regional programmes for strengthening the management and conservation of natural resources, and for development of regional tourism.