The Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) participated at the 19th Session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) held in Windhoek Namibia from 30th September to 4th October 2013. The session was held together with the third African Forestry and Wildlife Week (AFWW) under the common theme “Development of the Forestry and Wildlife Sector for effective contribution to Food security and a Green Economy in Africa”. It was attended by a number of representatives from member states, United Nation systems and observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. In his opening statement, Namibia’s Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Hon. H.E John Mutorwa noted with regret that Africa is leading in losing natural resources.

The Commission discussed a range of issues including: maintaining the integrity of forest ecosystems and wildlife habitats for food security; illegal trade and poaching of wildlife products and their implications for economic development in Africa; valuation of the contribution of forest and wildlife to economic development; and the implementation of the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’ in Africa.

The commission identified regional issues and made recommendations which included forestry and wildlife issues to be part of substantive discussion items at the African Regional conferences. It also recommended for the establishment of a standalone Sustainable development Goal on Forests that takes into account the achievements and inadequacies of the MDGs and related process.

The Task Force seized an opportunity to reach out some of the participants from the identified potential members and partners to Lusaka Agreement including Malawi, Mozambique, ECOWAS and SADC secretariats. Expanding the geographical scope of the Lusaka Agreement is critical for all African states to cooperate effectively in ensuring exploitation of wildlife resources do not affect sustainable development in the region and globally.

LATF believes that natural resources including wildlife are key companions to sustainable development of the African continent and therefore require full attention of all stakeholders across sectors to be safeguarded against illegal activities and over exploitation. The Lusaka Agreement Task Force thanks with much appreciation the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission for the invitation and assures to continue building good mutual working relationship with a view of developing a stronger partnership between the two organizations beneficial to conservation of wild fauna and flora in Africa.