Looking Back: Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability

Looking Back: Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability
From Issue Sustainuary 2016: Planning For A Sustainable Future

In 2012, nine major African countries met at a summit in Botswana to discuss the future of a sustainable Africa. This conference, later known as the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability, is considered far ahead of its time and created “a sea of change in the way these forward-thinking African nations are choosing to develop.”  

The nine countries that signed the Declaration. via conservation.org
The nine countries that signed the Declaration. via conservation.org

The dialogue at the Climate Change Conference in Paris exemplified the economic burden that many developing countries face as they “go green.” Because of limited financial resources, it is easier for African countries to succumb to buying the cheapest fuel on the market or to develop buildings with cheaper, less renewable materials; yet ten African countries back in 2012 pledged to not do so.

Natural capital is the key to playing African countries to their strengths. With some of the richest and most bio-diverse resources in the world, African nations have the potential to increase their influence in the global market, as well as forge a new legacy to protect and conserve Africa’s natural resources.

The Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability was attended by heads of nation-states, ministers, and leaders in both the corporate and thought sectors of Africa. The conference sought to inspire countries to:

  1. Incorporate the value of natural capital in public and private policies and decision-making
  2. Pursue sustainable production in agriculture, fisheries, and extractive industries while maintaining natural capital; and
  3. Generate data and build capacity to support policy networks.

A project of this size warrants a team of fully committed individuals. After this summit, the government of Botswana asked Conservation International, an American non-profit organization, to serve as Secretariat of the whole Gaborone Declaration.  Today, Conservation International is in charge of leading outreach and communications to countries and partners, defining a framework for implementation, raising funds, supporting the development of projects and monitoring progress, promoting success and encouraging further efforts to incorporate the value of nature in economic and social development decisions.

As Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khama who hosted these talks rightfully put,“We in Africa are determined to show leadership. Let us indeed lead by example, by using our abundant natural resources for the health, education and sustainable future of current and next generations.”