African Tourism administrations undersign the declaration of Kinshasa against poaching
An intense week of exchange of experiences and capacity building linked to wildlife and biodiversity protection has taken place in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A major result of the regional initiative that lies under the framework of the UNWTO/Chimelong Programme on Wildlife and Sustainable Tourism has been the Declaration of Kinshasa that addresses poaching and carbon footprint as major concerns of the sector.
The Regional Conference served to summarize the itinerary training workshops conducted throughout 2017, which encouraged local communities and tourism stakeholders to act as champions of biodiversity conservation and environmental protection. As a result, more than 120 people were trained last year from Niger, Gabon, Benin, Guinea and Democratic Republic of the Congo to give them the skills to design and implement local champion initiatives in their respective countries, which they showcased during the conference.
During the opening ceremony, which had more than 100 participants from the five countries in addition to Zimbabwe, the Minister of Tourism of the Democratic Republic of the Congo H.E. Franck Mwe di Malila Apenela underscored, “the vital importance of the link between tourism development and biodiversity conservation,” and that “it is not a coincidence that the upcoming UNWTO Agenda for Africa encapsulates it as one of its key priorities.”
Mr. Shanzhong Zhu, UNWTO Executive Director, hoped that “the results presented during the conference will provide opportunities to generate economic benefits while stimulating protection and appropriate management of biodiversity in harmony with the sustainable development of tourism.”
The opening ceremony was followed by a keynote speech by Seamus Kearney, journalist and producer, who emphasized the potential to involve the media in sustainable tourism-based initiatives and the need to communicate with honesty, transparency and honesty.
The UNWTO delegation comprised of Mr. Shanzhong Zhu, Executive Director and Mr. Jaime Mayaki, Deputy Director of the Africa Programme, was also officially received by the Prime Minister of DRC, H.E. Bruno Tshibala, during which they highlighted the key nexus between economic diversification, tourism development and biodiversity conservation in DRC and welcomed the vision of the government of DRC to put tourism as a priority for job creation.
A panel debate involving the Ministers of Tourism of DRC Franck Mwe di Malilia Apenela and of Niger, Ahmet Botto, together with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitalty Industry of Zimbabwe, Dr. Thokozile Chitepo and UNWTO Executive Director, Shanzhong Zhu stressed the relevance of institutional communications and coincided in the potential of engaging tourism authorities on wildlife conservation measures.
Involving local communities, develop educational programmes liaised to sustainable tourism and increasing awareness on biodiversity and wildlife were some of the themes underlined in the ministerial debate.
“The achievements of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development that we celebrated in 2017, the Lusaka Declaration on Sustainable Tourism and Community Engagement in Africa and the First African Charter on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism adopted by the COP22 constitute the best framework to advance the tourism sector towards more sustainable practices,” said the UNWTO Executive Director Shanzhong Zhu.
As the Declaration expresses, the undersigning countries commit to “reinforce the role of Sustainable Tourism as a lever for local development and support for the conservation and preservation of the environment” and “to become involved in strengthening the conservation of biodiversity, raise awareness and fight against various forms of over-exploitation of resources including poaching and reduce the carbon footprint of tourism-related activities”.
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