Nairobi, Kenya, The Parties to the Lusaka Agreement recently convened an extraordinary meeting of the 13th Governing Council at the Emara Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. This significant event witnessed the assumption of the Presidency of the Governing Council by the Honourable Peninah Malonza, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage of the Republic of Kenya. The meeting brought together member states, including Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, who actively participated in discussions aimed at strengthening the Lusaka Agreement and combating transnational wildlife crime effectively.

Key Outcomes of the Extraordinary 13th Governing Council Meeting:

  1. Kenya Assumes the Presidency: The election of Honourable Peninah Malonza as President of the 13th Governing Council marks a pivotal moment in the regional efforts to combat wildlife crime. Kenya’s leadership role underscores the country’s commitment to conservation and wildlife protection within the Lusaka Agreement region.

    CS Peninah Malonza with the outgoing President of the 12th Governing Council, Hon Rodney Sikumba, Minister for Tourism of the Republic of Zambia

  2. Strengthening the Lusaka Agreement: The Governing Council made substantive decisions to reinforce the Lusaka Agreement and enhance the capabilities of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force in combatting transnational wildlife crime. This move reflects the commitment of member states to proactively address the challenges posed by illegal wildlife trafficking.
  3. Recognition of Progress: The Council acknowledged the commendable progress achieved by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force in combating wildlife crime. The Task Force’s efforts in capacitating national enforcement agencies and promoting cooperation in the fight against wildlife trafficking were appreciated and feted.
  4. Support for the Task Force: Member states and cooperating partners were called upon to lend their support to the Lusaka Agreement Task Force in its mission to combat transnational wildlife and forest crime. Collaborative efforts among the Parties and stakeholders are essential to effectively combatting wildlife crimes.
  5. Establishment of Task Force Headquarters: The Government of Kenya demonstrated its commitment to the cause by providing land for the construction of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force Headquarters in Nairobi. This step will serve as a central hub for coordination and collaboration in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
  6. Program of Work and Budget: The Council adopted the Program of Work and Budget for the Lusaka Agreement Task Force for the period July 2023 to June 2024 and also to review the strategic plan for the Lusaka Agreement Task Force. The strategic plan will guide upcoming activities and initiatives, ensuring an organized and focused approach in the fight against wildlife crime.
  7. Creation of Wildlife Enforcement Endowment Fund: The approval of the Lusaka Agreement Wildlife Enforcement Endowment Fund represents a significant milestone in mobilizing additional resources to combat illegal trade in wildlife. This fund will play a vital role in supporting and sustaining enforcement efforts.
  8. Auditors Appointment: In a bid to ensure financial transparency and accountability, auditors were appointed to audit the Lusaka Agreement Task Force’s financial statement for the period 2024 to 2025.

The Governing Council also expressed its sincere appreciation for the positive progress made by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force in fostering closer collaboration and partnerships, as well as mobilizing resources to combat illegal trade in wild fauna and flora. The Director of the Task Force was entrusted with the responsibility of reporting on the implementation progress of the Decisions to the Bureau of the 13th Governing Council and the 14th Governing Council meetings, reflecting the Parties’ commitment to transparency and accountability in the Agreement’s implementation.

Partnerships have been instrumental in the effort to combat wildlife crime and promoting conservation across the region. The Lusaka Agreement Task Force extends its profound gratitude to various organizations and entities that have provided unwavering support, each playing a crucial role in advancing the mission to safeguard wildlife and combat illegal trade.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), The Grace Farms Foundation, (GFF) ESRI Global, RESTEC Japan, and the UNODC Regional Office on Wildlife Crime are among the esteemed partners whose dedication and collaboration have been pivotal in the Agreement’s success. Their valuable contributions have significantly expanded the Task Force’s capacity to effectively combat wildlife crime and enhance conservation efforts in Lusaka Agreement member states.The Lusaka Agreement Task Force also extends its heartfelt gratitude to IFAW and WWF Kenya for their valuable support in organizing this significant meeting. Their contributions have not only facilitated the convening of the Extraordinary Governing Council meeting, but they have also bolstered the Task Force’s overall efforts in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking and promoting regional cooperation.

The extraordinary meeting in Nairobi exemplified the Parties’ dedication to address wildlife crime and advancing regional cooperation for the conservation of wildlife and natural heritage in the Lusaka Agreement region and beyond. The outcomes of this meeting are set to pave the way for more effective measures and collaborations in combating illegal wildlife trafficking and ensuring a sustainable future for the region’s precious biodiversity.