With environmental degradation threatening international peace, food security and over all economic development, southern African ministers met in a bid to thrash out remedial measures.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) acting executive secretary Toao Caholo said in Gaborone that the region had no choice but to face the issues head on.
Speaking at the first meeting of the SADC ad hoc committee of ministers responsible for the environment and sustainable development held at Boipuso Hall over the weekend, Caholo said there was pressure on the environment manifested in the form of land degradation, global, water contamination and other forms of environmental problems.
He said 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the region was derived from primary products, which included fisheries, forestry, wildlife, mining and agriculture. He said these had sustained the region for generations but with an estimated 230 million people there had been a rise in demands and services. He said SADC proponents saw regional integration and cooperation on the environment and natural resources as part of a solution to the problems. He said they needed to collaborate in managing the environment and embrace the Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) approach. Delegates at the meeting unanimously urged SADC member states to support the proposals from the region on sustainable utilisation of elephants and products during the upcoming Convention on the International Trade In Endangered Species (CITES) meeting. They called on the region to oppose the counter proposal of Kenya and Mali for a 20-year ban on trade in live elephants and elephant products. They said member states should oppose the proposal by Kenya to repeal the annual hunting quotas for black rhinos allocated to Namibia and South Africa during the previous CITES meeting.
Ministers also endorsed the SADC Elephant Conservation and Management Strategy as a tool for supporting the conservation and utilisation of elephant populations.
Ministers and officials attending the meeting came from Angola, host country Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting was partly meant to monitor progress and provide direction on SADC's environmental and sustainable development issues.