President to open EU-UN Wildlife Economy Summit

The Chronicle

Elita Chikwati in Victoria Falls

President Mnangagwa will today officially open the inaugural African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) Wildlife Economy Summit which presents a platform to strategise on unlocking value from wildlife in the continent.

He arrived here yesterday afternoon.

Representatives from 30 other African countries and international delegates are also expected to attend the summit.

The programme started yesterday morning with a Presidential Golf Tournament where more than 100 golfers including Ministers and dignitaries from different countries took part.

Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi teed-off to set the ball and conference running on behalf of President Mnangagwa.

Announcement of winners and presentation of awards was expected to be done last night at a welcome cocktail. 

During the day Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira led her counterparts and other delegates on a tour of the Mighty Victoria Falls Rainforest and Bridge as part of selling Zimbabwe as a viable tourism destination.

President Mnangagwa will be joined by other Heads of State and dignitaries from the region and beyond to discuss ideas on the conservation of Africa’s natural environment.

 Key issues expected to be deliberated on at the summit include unlocking investments and the power of wildlife economy, how to create an enabling environment for investment in an African wildlife economy, transformative potential of the wildlife economy, opportunity for Africa including economic and social justice benefits and how to move to scale the challenge.

Delegates are also expected to discuss what should be done to unlock the power of communities as partners and exploration of key innovations that can unlock new economic benefits with public and private partnerships.

Minister Mupfumira said the inaugural AU/UN Wildlife Summit presents Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) nations an opportunity to share views on unlocking value from wildlife.

 KAZA is situated in Southern Africa where the national borders of five countries converge — being the upper Zambezi River and Okavango basins and Delta, the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, the southeastern part of Angola, southwestern Zambia, the northern wildlands of Botswana and western Zimbabwe.

It is home to 61 percent of the world elephant population.

Minister Mupfumira said she was happy that Zimbabwe was hosting the first ever AU-UN Africa Wildlife Summit and was looking forward to a successful conference.

“Zimbabwe is in the KAZA region and KAZA boasts of hosting more than 60 percent of the world’s elephant population,” she said.

“We will discuss how wildlife impacts the ordinary people and how we can manage human-wildlife conflict. We want to come up with resolutions which will be good for conservation and make sure people living with wildlife also benefit. 

“There will be various international speakers and our own Zimbabweans will contribute in the deliberations,” she said.

Minister Mupfumira said elephants were a symbol of success in conservation strategies in the region and a key draw card to the tourism industry.

“The summit is most opportune to reflect on this important species as well as recalibrate strategies to ensure that appropriate benefits accrue to nations and respective communities,” she said.