Pessimists who contend that it’s impossible for business and conservation protagonists to have an amiable discussion without jumping at each other’s throats would be lost for words if they had witnessed a recent 4-day meeting under the Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA) Initiative which brought together business and conservation leaders from Africa and around the world,
The Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA), which was inaugurated in South Africa in August 2006, brings together an amalgamation of business and conservation interests from Africa and across the world and so far has representation from 13 African countries that include Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Gambia, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Congo Brazzaville and South Africa.
Member countries come together annually for the LCA Council Meeting, which is organised in any of the member countries and the next Council Meeting will be held in Namibia.
Uganda’s beauty and greenery did not disappoint in dazzling guests during the 23rd to 26th meeting that took place at Paraa Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls National Park, and many were heard promising to return for a holiday with their families. Murchison Falls National Park was in 2004 voted the 7th best national park in the whole of Africa during a 2004 survey by Getaway, a South African travel magazine that specialises in ranking holiday destinations.
Delegates at the meeting agreed that it is high time African business leaders and conservationists began talking, which is the main goal of the LCA initiative. “Unless we talk to each other, we will not achieve much,” noted the Chief Executive Officer for South African National Parks (SanParks) Dr. David Mabunda.
Business and conservation in Africa are often locked in long-running battles with the latter accusing the former of paying lip service to environmental issues, while those in business argue that developments should always take precedence over environmental concerns because they generate tangible benefits which is more than can be said of conservation. In most cases, the business arguments carry the day.
The days of fighting must come to an end because the two actually need each other for survival, and it will be up to the national chapters of the LCA initiative to make the difference. LCA National Chapters have already been established in Uganda, Namibia, Congo Brazaville and Ghana.
Dr. Mabunda observed, “The environment is the only asset that Africa has and as LCA, we are saying let us work together with business to conserve it in a way that also profits the people.”
The willingness to talk to each other was clearly demonstrated by the business and conservation delegates that attended the 2nd LCA Council Meeting in Murchison Falls National Park, many of whom agreed that national chapters should each identify a tangible project that can be implemented as part of the LCA initiative.