CSOs canvass better deal for African wildlife in COVID-19 policies

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By Chioma Ugboma

Lagos, Sept. 18, 2020 The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) says it is intensifying campaigns that will positively influence how COVID- 19 policies affect wildlife trade, consumption and deforestation in Africa.

Naija247news reports that the AWF is an umbrella body for alliance of over 80 African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in conservation as the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA).

Chief Executive Officer of Obudu Conservation Centre (OCC) Nela Duke-Ekpenyong, member, policy working group of the coalition made this known in a statement on Thursday in Lagos.

She said that the group would continue to ensure better life for wildlife even as the world grappled with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said an online meeting of the group on ‘How COVID-19 Affected Policies on Wildlife”, was part of the group’s strategy as an alliance, aimed at engaging with the development of post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in a manner that reflected the values, rights, priorities and needs of the African people.

She said that in April 2020, her wildlife NGO dedicated to protecting, restoring and increasing awareness of the wild lands and wildlife on the Obudu Plateau and surroundings in Cross River National Park, also joined the communications and policy working group of ACBA.

Duke-Ekpenyong, who supported the coalition by managing the external communications of the alliance and assisting with the country-level engagement in Nigeria, said OCC also liaised with media platforms to promote ACBA’s campaign.

She disclosed that she produced a case study on ‘Wildlife Community Forest Reserves, Pastoralism, and Water Rehabilitation’ to influence the Convention on Biodiversity’s Framework on Sustainable Use.

According to her, we are currently running an African- wide campaign to draw attention to zoonotic diseases, 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 continues with its six-week campaign, the organisation acknowledges 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 info-graphics 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 organised a campaign comprising of webinar series and info-graphics. The final webinar for the #OurNatureOurHealth campaign is almost here,” she said.

She said the group also worked 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.

“It includes how Africa’s biodiversity thrives and underpins equitable, socially economically resilient livelihoods based on the rights of people to sustainably use their natural resources,” she said.

She, however said that ACBA had engaged the African Union Commission and United Nation’s General Assembly’s Biodiversity Summit.

“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.

“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,” she added.

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