Katima Mulilo – We, the Ministers responsible for coordinating matters of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) of the Republics of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, met in Katima Mulilo, Namibia, on 13th October 2022, to reflect on how our joint efforts in the development and management of KAZA TFCA are progressing.
This meeting was an opportunity to collectively reflect on how we are addressing challenges and leveraging opportunities related to the development and management of KAZA TFCA. We noted significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry. Recovery is slow and long. The private sector, our local communities and all sectors of our nations were negatively impacted. Through KAZA, funding has been mobilised to support mitigation of the COVID-19 impacts.
We remain committed to regionally integrated approaches to supporting recovery of the tourism sector and commit to diversification as a strategy for a resilient tourism industry in the KAZA TFCA. To this end, through our Secretariat, we are advancing works on tourism branding and corporate identity, destination marketing activities, and establishment of the Great KAZA Birding Route, which among other initiatives, will help us to better undertake the joint marketing of KAZA TFCA.
We reaffirmed our commitment to the KAZA vision, underpinned by the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations through our approval of key strategic documents to inform our work, such as the recently approved Policy Brief and Data Sharing Agreement on Elephant Movement and Connectivity. We remain resolved to fostering joint responsibilities in promoting the sustainable management and use of natural resources. We will work to continue to identify opportunities and implement measures that enable our local communities, as custodians, to legitimately benefit from these resources.
We take note and appreciate the progress made so far regarding the KAZA wide aerial survey – a directive of the Kasane Elephants Summit of 2019, which started in August 2022 and is nearing completion. The KAZA Elephants Survey is a demonstration of our shared commitment to the harmonisation of approaches, policies, and management efforts in various endeavours for the development of KAZA. The survey will provide critical baseline information needed for policy and management priorities and decisions at both country and transboundary levels. We look forward to a successful completion for the remaining components of the landscape.
We also note the significant progress made and resolutions adopted in the following areas, among others:
- Recognising KAZA as a human-wildlife co-existence landscape where our communities are stewards of their environment, sometimes at significant personal cost and sacrifice, in support conservation measures.
- Commitment to working with the Republic of Angola to conclude the ratification process of the KAZA Treaty.
- Commitment towards operationalising the Hosting Agreement signed in 2016.
- Recommit our efforts to promoting human-wildlife co-existence, strengthening conflict mitigation and preventative measures, innovations to off-set costs and conducting research on human-wildlife interactions, especially in known hotspots within KAZA.
- Collectively explore opportunities and promote measures for sustainable management and utilisation of forest resources, including non-timber forest products, such as including carbon trading.
- Commit to a process of institutional review of KAZA, to appreciate how far we have progressed in our shared vision and necessary reforms to promote collective impact at scale.
- On fundraising, we recognise the longstanding support from the Federal Republic of Germany, through KfW, growing support from US government agencies, the European Union, the French Development Agency (AFD), private philanthropies and various non-governmental organisations, all contributing to our donor diversification and project portfolios in the KAZA landscape.
- Acknowledgement of the importance of partnerships through MoUs, such as the recently approved MoU with Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, and to continue the pursuit of such partnerships to further the development of KAZA TFCA.
- We commend the Republic of Zambia for reaffirming the commitment to hosting the KAZA Heads of State Summit, details of which will be shared at an opportune time.
We applaud the Republic of Namibia for performing the coordination role of KAZA from 2020 to 2022 and congratulate the Republic of Zambia for taking over this important role for the period 2022 – 2024.