Learn more about the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress and why the African Wildlife Foundation is supporting this cross-continental dialogue to reassess protected and conserved areas and the immense contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development…

In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN) invited African Wildlife Foundation to serve with the Government of Rwanda as a co-host of the Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC), taking place at the Kigali Convention Centre from July 18-23, 2022. It is historic – the first-ever protected areas congress focusing solely on Africa.

With plenary sessions, technical workshops, and clinics organized around three key themes — protected and conserved areas, people, and biodiversity — the Congress is groundbreaking in exploring the intersection between conservation and development in Africa, particularly in the run-up to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework which guides global action to protect biodiversity and essential ecosystem services. The Africa Protected Areas Congress also helps align interests ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) and the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) later this year.

Learn more about APAC and why AWF is supporting this cross-continental dialogue to reassess protected areas and the immense contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development.

What is the Africa Protected Areas Congress?

APAC is the first continent-wide congress to bring together African leaders, citizens, businesses, and interest groups to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature and promoting sustainable development in Africa.

The vice-chair of the IUCN – World Commission on Protected Areas proposed an Africa protected areas congress in 2018 during a meeting with regional directors of conservation organizations. The directors embraced the idea, which the commission subsequently endorsed. APAC will be a regional congress similar to those held in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

What are the objectives of APAC?

At the continental level, the Africa Protected Areas Congress will establish a vision and shared values for Africa’s protected and conserved areas as core to achieving the ambitions set out in Africa’s Agenda 2063, a blueprint for sustainable development outlined by the African Union.

Additionally, by convening cross-sectoral stakeholders to discuss conservation challenges and solutions — especially in the wake of global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic — the Congress helps governments set a common agenda for Africa’s protected and conserved areas that ensures they contribute to socio-economic transformation across Africa.

In recognition of the rights of indigenous people, local communities, and young people and their role as custodians and defenders of nature, the Congress seeks to include these often neglected, but vital, perspectives.

Not only does the Africa Protected Areas Congress provide a platform to exchange best practices and innovative solutions across sectors, it also sets the foundation for new networks to grow. Overall, the Congress will harmonize conservation and economic development needs by developing strategic partnerships for long-term sustainability such as A Pan-African Conservation Trust (A-PACT), a unique conservation finance mechanism that will be unveiled at the Congress.

How is AWF contributing to the Africa Protected Areas Congress?

AWF’s co-leadership role for the inaugural Africa Protected Areas Congress is grounded in our belief in the vital importance of promoting African conservation leadership and elevating African conservation voices. Our goal is that it will help to define a shared African vision for protected areas that will shape conservation and development policy and practice on the continent as well as global investment.

“One major lesson we have drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic is that overnight transformational change is possible,” said AWF CEO Kaddu Sebunya. “A different world, a different economy is dawning. Through this continental partnership, Africa will be able to present a unified front, working to deliver a lasting balance between people, prosperity, and our planetary boundaries. AWF takes great pride in the central role we are playing to raise an African constituency in conservation.

What is AWF doing at the Africa Protected Areas Congress?

Before officially opening APAC on July 18, 2022, AWF will convene African youth participants for a two-day workshop with sessions and panel discussions to prepare them for the Congress. Once APAC kicks off, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, AWF global board member, and APAC Patron H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn will launch A Pan-African Conservation Trust, the innovative conservation funding mechanism of which he is the Steering Committee Chair.

All through the five-day Congress, AWF will host partners in a special pavilion showcasing our shared vision for African conservation. Here, AWF conservation experts will hold technical workshops and presentations based on our 60-year history of conservation practice, community-based interventions, and promoting African leadership in conservation.

AWF will also participate in various panel discussions on the wildlife economy as well as sustainable financing and rights-based approaches in conservation. As part of AWF’s mission to elevate African conservation voices, AWF and its partners will screen short, African-produced conservation films, in addition, AWF will host a media workshop for African-led environmental journalism.

Learn more about AWF at the Africa Protected Areas Congress.