On 17th March 2021, Dr. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, European Parliament Rapporteur for the new EU-Africa Strategy, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) organised a virtual high-level conference titled “Addressing the Biodiversity Crisis: The Role of the Africa-EU Partnership”.
Africa is home to a vast and rich natural capital, including outstanding biodiversity and numerous intact marine, forest, grassland, and other ecosystems. However, increasing pressure on natural resources in Africa is leading to significant biodiversity loss and habitat degradation, bringing entire ecosystems to the brink of collapse. The current COVID-19 pandemic shows the importance to support global efforts to apply the One Health approach, which recognises the intrinsic connection between human health, animal health and healthy, resilient natural systems.
The EU and Africahave an opportunity to increase their partnership and collaboration in order to address the various challenges related to biodiversity conservation. The EU and Africa can and should also play a leading role on the international stage, building on the global momentum after the UNBiodiversity Summit held in September 2020, the One Planet Summit held in January 2021, and leading to and during the CBD COP15 this year.
The conference was moderated by Dr. Susan Lieberman – WCS Vice President for International Policy, and included interventions from H.E. Ms. Jutta Urpilainen – EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, H.E. Amb. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko – AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, H.E. Mr. Francisco André – Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, H.E. Hon. Ms. Sharon Ikeazor – Nigeria Environment Minister of State, Dr. Emma Stokes – WCS Regional Director for Central Africa, Mr. Rémy Rioux – CEO of the French Development Agency (AFD), Dr. Michel Masozera – WCS Director of Policy and Institutional Partnerships for Africa, Ms. Jyoti Mathur-Filipp – CBD Director of Implementation Support Division, Ms. Birgit Pickel – Director of Global Health, Pandemic Preparedness and One Health at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Mr. Emmanuel de Mérode – Virunga National Park Director, among others. See the full conference programme here.
Quotes from the conference:
“The future of our planet is the single biggest test facing our generation. We have to get it right. Africa and the EU must team up and work together in a more strategic way.”
- Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, European Commission
“L’Afrique et l’Europe ont un rôle déterminant à jouer pour protéger la biodiversité unique du continent africain et pour pousser à l’adoption d’un cadre mondial ambitieux. Il y a urgence à mettre la crise de la biodiversité au-devant de notre agenda politique. Avec le One Planet Summit, le Congrès mondial de l’IUCN et la COP 15, il y a un momentum global pour sauver la biodiversité.”
- Dr. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, MEP, Vice-Chair of the DEVE Committee
“We must actively promote and institutionalise the One Health approach. We believe the best way to prevent the next pandemic is to keep wildlife in the wild.”
- H.E. Hon. Ms. Sharon Ikeazor – Nigeria Environment Minister of State
“Long-term investments in protected areas and enforcing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are core to biodiversity conservation and sustainable rural development.”
- Dr. Emma Stokes, WCS Regional Director for Central Africa
“The NaturAfrica initiative will enable African & EU partners to tackle biodiversity loss by managing vast territories centred around protected areas for wildlife restoration and working landscapes to offer opportunities in green sectors for local communities.”
- Ms. Carla Montesi, Director, Green Deal and Digital Agenda at DG INTPA
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a severe toll on conservation efforts and on communities dedicated to protecting nature – especially in Africa. At the same time, the pandemic reminds us that the health of ecosystems, humans and animals alike is inextricably linked. That is why Germany promotes the One Health-approach in international and national agendas.”
- Ms. Birgit Pickel, Director, Global Health, Pandemic Prevention and One Health at BMZ
“With the finish line for negotiations quickly coming into view, a unified approach from such a significant development partnership as Africa and the EU can help inspire us all, as we work towards an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at COP 15 in Kunming, China.”
- Ms. Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, CBD Director of the Implementation and Support Division
“Partnership between the EU and Africa is critical in protecting and restoring Africa’s natural ecosystems to address the converging climate, biodiversity, and pandemic crises while upholding and strengthening Indigenous land rights.”
- Dr. Michel Masozera, WCS Director of Policy and Institutional Partnerships for Africa
“The future is for and about young people. In Africa, close to 50% of the population is below the age of 18. We must see Nature and climate action by African people and leaders as a possibility to deliver jobs, opportunities and economic resilience for this dynamic generation.”
- Mr. Rémy Rioux, CEO, French Development Agency (AFD)
The recording of the webinar is also accessible at: https://vimeo.com/526135922
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