Africa Policy Advisory Panel Report- A Natural Resource Conservation Initiative for Africa


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U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell provided the keynote address at a Thursday, 8 July 2004 conference on Capitol Hill about U.S./Africa Policy. The conference marked the release of the Africa Policy Advisory Panel Report entitled, Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa: Seven Proposals to Strengthen U.S. Africa Policy.

Nick Lapham of Conservation International (CI) worked with many Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) members [Judy Oglethorpe and Richard Carroll of World Wildlife Fund; Harry van der Linde of African Wildlife Foundation, Heather Eves of Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, James Deutsch and Steve Osofsky of Wildlife Conservation Society, Peter Veit of World Resources Institute, and Nancy Gelman of ABCG] to draft the proposal on "A Natural Resource Conservation Initiative for Africa." The Africa Policy Advisory Panel (APAP), for which the U.S. Congress authorized monies in the 2003 omnibus spending bill, guides U.S.-Africa policy. Peter Seligmann, the CEO of CI, sits as a member of the Advisory Panel.

At the conference, Nick Lapham described the reasons for increased U.S. interest in African conservation. He emphasized the role of tourism in Africa as the second biggest foreign exchange earner. The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) III now has a section on ecotourism. He also described potential threats to natural resources such as preventing timber from being the "currency of conflict" in places such as Liberia as well as disease transfer between domestic animals, wildlife and humans.

Nick Lapham presented six recommendations from the APAP report for A Natural Resource Conservation Initiative for Africa to:

  1. Scale up and sustain U.S. assistance (diplomatic, technical, and financial) to regional partnerships aimed at conserving key tranboundary ecosystems.
  2. Prioritize improved natural resource management as a key component in U.S. efforts to promote good governance.
  3. Expand and better coordinate U.S. government activities to address the African bushmeat crisis.
  4. Develop stronger programs and incentives to more effectively engage the U.S. diplomatic corps in Africa on natural resource conservation issues.
  5. Restore and expand U.S. technical assistance programs that build capacity of Africans- from practitioners to political leaders- in natural resource conservation.Increase U.S. investment in African parks and protected areas.

Many of the speakers including Colin Powell, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner, highlighted conservation issues. Colin Powell said that he is enormously proud of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). He stated that through CBFP, the U.S. was building creative partnerships with African governments, NGOs, and the private sector. "The Forest Partnership will help to safeguard Africa's precious natural heritage while at the same time promoting development, allow that heritage to be used in a sensible way that preserves it, but at the same time gets some economic benefit out of it in order to alleviate poverty and to enhance good government. Under the Forest Partnership, we are supporting a network of parks and protected areas, well managed forestry concessions and the creation of economic opportunities for communities that depend on the forests and the wildlife of the region."

Powell recalled his visit to Gabon and President Bongo's initiative to set aside 10% of the country into protected areas. He said that he wanted to see flora and fauna, but his security was so good that all he could see in the jungle were some trees as there was no wildlife ( or even mosquitos) to be seen within 500 miles. He said how proud President Bush is to be at the forefront of these environmental initiatives.

Rep. Royce also drew attention to CBFP and ecotourism. He described CBFP as an innovative approach to "help give Africans an incentive to save their flora and fauna from destruction. Eco-tourism in the Congo Basin, and in the more traditional tourist destinations in eastern and southern Africa, has great potential for up-lifting Africans, and conserving for posterity the resources all of mankind has an interest in." Royce mentioned the new congressional caucus on international conservation in the U.S. House of Representatives that focuses on these issues. He also emphasized the recent destruction of Virunga National Park and stated that "Rwanda must stop its deforestation of one of the two remaining mountain gorilla habitats."

Kansteiner, when introducing Nick Lapham, said that not only are we conserving wealth with conservation, but are also generating wealth. He said that African governments were recognizing the role of ecotourism and have responded by setting aside parks. He discussed the need for them to take next steps and asked Nick how the U.S. might assist.

The seven proposals put forth by APAP include:

  1. Crafting a U.S. Energy Policy for Africa
  2. Capital Market and Financial Sector Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
  3. To Guarantee the Peace: An Action Strategy for a Post-Conflict Sudan
  4. A Natural Resource Conservation Initiative for Africa
  5. Countering the Terrorist Threat in AFrica
  6. Crisis Diplomacy and Peace Operations
  7. Continuing U.S. Leadership to Combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and Globally

For copies of the conference agenda, speeches by Colin Powell, Ed Royce, and Senator Russell Feingold, the Executive Summary of the APAP Report ("A Natural Resource Conservation Initiative for Africa" is on pp.28-30), press release, etc., please see the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) website at http://www.csis.org. Hard copies of the report can be purchased from CSIS Press for $25. Also see the interview with Nick Lapham on allAfrica.com entitled "Conservation Should Be Major U.S.-Africa Policy Issue, Report Says".

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Date CreatedWednesday, November 5, 2008 11:46 AM
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