Sunday, November 27

As millions of tons of rosewood worth over US$2 billion illegally traded from W/Africa, PANCANR launched to curb mismanagement, illegal exploitation of forests, fisheries, wildlife.

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The Honourable Secretary of State for Climate Change and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Angola Ms. Paula Francisca Coelho has presided over the launching of the Pan African Network for the Conservation of Africa’s Natural Resources (PANCANR).

It is important and significance for African countries to develop and implement policies that would balance natural resource utilization for socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation as well as adapting and mitigating the increasing negative impacts of climate change.

In her launching statement, Secretary of State Paula underscored the huge strategic importance of the continent’s natural resources including fisheries, forests, wildlife and many others for the socio-economic development of Africa. But she however lamented and warned against the increasing rate of mismanagement and illegal exploitation of Africa’s natural resources particularly our forests, fisheries and wildlife.

While she reaffirmed her committed support for PANCANR, Secretary Paula welcomed the idea of creating a pan African network to forester dialogue and policy advocacy at the continental level, but she urged members of PANCANR to ensure an effective operationalization of the network in all the geographic regions of the continent.   She thanked all partners including the Environmental Investigation Agency for their support.

Almami Dampha, the Executive Secretary of PANCANR resounded that the idea of creating the Pan African Network for the Conservation of Africa’s Natural Resources came through experiences from increasing illegal exploitation and mismanagement of the continent’s natural resources.

According to the Gambian forestry expert, “West Africa suffered greatly from the illegal exploitation and trade in Pterocarpus erinaceous (Rosewood, Keno or Koss) with Asian serving as the main market. According to April 2022 EIA’s analysis, over 3 million tons of rosewood worth more than US$2 billion had been illegally traded between West Africa and China over a five-year period. Despite the listing of Pterocarpus erinaceous under CITES Appendix II, which came into effect from January 2017, illegal exploitation and illegal trade in the species persist to date”.

Dampha, former AU expert on Natural Resource Management revealed that the goal of the PANCANR is to mobilize public opinions in both Africa and abroad on the negative impacts of the illegal exploitation and mismanagement of Africa’s natural resources and encourage mutually benefitting trading arrangements between Africa and the rest of world by promoting sustainable development and enhance resilience to climate change on the continent. PANCANR is anchored on the principles of independence, accountability, transparency and representation of all geographical regions of Africa.

By achieving its goal, Dampha disclosed that the network intends to put in place a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary groups to promote sustainable natural resource management in Africa, provide a space for African countries to share experiences on the best natural resource management practices, strengthen coordination and synergies between the various stakeholders in the natural resource sector by tapping the potentials of the African Diaspora to promote environmental  and natural resource conservation in Africa.

The keynote address was delivered by Ambassador Seyni Nafo, a veteran climate change negotiator representing Mali, a former Chair of African Group of Negotiators for Climate Change and a former Coordinator of the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI).  Ambassador Nafo advised the network to be inclusive and transparent, and emphasized the importance of working with other African institutions like African Union Commission, Regional Economic Communities, development partners, media, youths and women.

“As one cannot do all due to resource limitation, it is imperative to collaborate and synergize” Ambassador Nafo emphasized, urging PANCANR to be innovative in their resource mobilization strategies to maintain and strengthen the independence of the network.

The launching ceremony also featured a panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Elvis Paul Tangem, the Coordinator of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative of the African Union Commission. The panelist included; Dr. Lucas Miranda, a retired senior civil servant and university lecturer in Angola, Mr. Jeremiah Seidu, Programme Coordinator, Jaksally Development Organization in Ghana and Ms Vivian Lauren Alandu representing the executive secretary of the Africa Women Innovators for Sustainable Environment.

Raphael Edou, one of the organizers of the event, representing the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in Washington DC, USA, was Africa Programme Manager at EIA delivered a brief statement underlining the seriousness of natural resource management in Africa fuelled by corruption, poor management policies and lack of implementation and enforcement of laws.

The closing remarks and the vote of thank was delivered by Mrs. Mailes Zulus of People and Environment Agency of Zambia and the Deputy Executive secretary of PANCANR.

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