Thematic Green Messages

Author: Dr. Isaac Kalua

16th Nov 2018 at 11:07 am

Biodiversity

Why We Must Take Care of Africa's Green Gold


Author Dr Kalua writing on Why We Must Take Care of Africa's Green Gold
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This week on 13 November in 2018, the first ever Africa Ministerial Conference on Biodiversity took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. This might seem like yet another meeting bringing together senior government officials to make declarations that don't up anywhere. But that was not the case. The fact that this was the first time that such a meeting was taking place was in itself telling. Here is why:

Biodiversity is Africa's green gold. But unlike the literal gold that is found in a few countries like Ghana and South Africa, Africa's green gold is found in each of the 54 countries on the continent.

This Summit adopted the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience. A huge chunk of our behaviour both at the household and industrial levels, not to mention State behaviour, has pushed Africa's ecosystems and biodiversity to their knees. That is why the agenda that the Summit adopted is geared towards ensuring that our ecosystems get back on their feet and stay on their feet.

The sixth Global Environment Outlook Regional Assessment for Africa states that, 'the weak valuation of biodiversity as an asset for economic development contributes to inadequate conservation efforts.' I couldn't agree more. Unless we begin treating our biodiversity as green gold, we will lose out on its priceless value and treat it as valueless. In order for us to be able to do this, the UN Environment recommends that African countries need to 'actively include a system of factoring biodiversity and ecosystem services into national accounting systems.'

Biodiversity refers to the multiplicity of living organisms and ecosystems. The lions in Maasai Mara; the butterflies in your balcony; the flowers in in your village; the trees at Karura Forest - all these are part of Africa's rich biodiversity. They all have priceless economic value that can actually underpin sustainable livelihoods. In the case of the lions, they are (together with other wildlife) a key reason why 1.47 million people visited Kenya in 2017 earning the country Ksh120 billion. In the case of our forests, they are our water towers; water catchment areas that are responsible for the water in our rivers and taps. It is almost impossible to place a financial value on this water and the forests that keep it flowing. Without water, nothing can happen. It is priceless as are the forests.

This is why biodiversity is green gold; even more valuable than the precious metal known as gold. Let us therefore cherish our biodiversity in this country and begin to value it as priceless so that we can nurture it constantly. If we do so, our biodiversity will nurture us in return and bless us with sustainable livelihoods.

Yours in Green,

Dr. Isaac Kalua

Think Green, Act Green.

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Dr. Isaac Kalua

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