By Festus Ahon
AFRICAN Wildlife Foundation, AWF, the Secretariat of an alliance of over 80 African Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Thursday continued its campaign for a better world in the face of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
The CSOs working in conservation, as the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance, ACBA, in the online session titled ‘How COVID-19 Affected Policies on Wildlife Trade’ was part of the group’s strategy as aimed at engaging with the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in a manner that would reflect the values, rights, priorities and needs of African people.
The Chief Executive Officer of Obudu Conservation Centre (OCC), Nela Duke-Ekpenyong, who spoke on the campaign, said in April 2020, her wildlife NGO dedicated to protecting, restoring and increasing awareness of the wildlands and wildlife on the Obudu Plateau and surrounding Cross River National Park, joined the communications and policy working group of ACBA.
Duke-Ekpenyong who manages the external communications of the Alliance, and assisting with the country-level engagement in Nigeria, liaising with media platforms to promote ACBA’s message and campaign, said she has produced a case study on Wildlife Community Forest Reserves, Pastoralism, and Water Rehabilitation to influence the Convention on Biodiversity’s Framework on Sustainable Use.
She said: “We are currently running an African- wide campaign to draw attention to zoonotic diseases and tourism and conservation. We are presently out to increase awareness and my involvement is for the Obudu Conservation Centre, which is part of the ACBA.
“As the group continued with its six-week campaign, the organizations acknowledge that engaging the public on the linkage between nature and health systems is vital now more than ever.
“To effectively communicate this scientific phenomenon, multi-lingual infographics are complementing efforts to ensure a better grasp of how zoonotic diseases are transmitted and how everyone can play a role to ensure that we avert another pandemic.
“In a bid to raise awareness on zoonosis, ACBA has organized a campaign comprising of webinar series and infographics. The final webinar, for the #OurNatureOurHealth Campaign, is almost here!
“On this webinar, which took place on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 1500hrs (EAT); we discussed more ‘How COVID-19 Affected Policies on Wildlife Trade. It was moderated by the communications leader of the alliance, Miss Simangele Msweli of South Africa, with Mr Taye Teferi, the Africa Policy and Partnership Coordinator of Wildlife Monitoring Network, and Mr Tommy Garnet, Executive Director, Environmental Foundation for Africa, as Speakers.
“We also work alongside a team of leading conservationists and organisations in discussions with the China CSOs and Latin American COICA group to bring together the voice of the global south to influence the post-2020 CBD Framework. Especially as ACBA, which is a coalition of like-minded African organizations that have come together to engage with the post-2020 GBF to achieve some definite vision.
“It includes Africa’s biodiversity thrives and underpins equitable, socially economically resilient livelihoods based on the rights of people to sustainably use their natural resources”, adding that ACBA has engaged the African Union Commission and United Nation’s General Assembly’s Biodiversity Summit.
Also, the communications leader of the alliance, Miss Simangele Msweli of South Africa, said; “over the past five weeks, we have been running the zoonosis campaign that ends in two weeks, educating Africans about zoonosis, their effects on the economy, human health and animal health”.
Msweli who doubles as Coordinator, South Africa Youths Biodiversity Network, in an email, said; “while on social media we have focused on the zoonosis campaign, behind the scenes we are crafting policy submissions to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in order to influence the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework as our main goal is to strengthen the African civil society voice in the CBD”.