Rwanda Hosts the Inaugural IUCN Protected Areas Congress (APAC)

Blog | 24/07/22

Rwanda has hosted the inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) – the first-ever Pan-African gathering of leaders, citizens, and interest groups focused on protected areas – from 18-23rd July in Kigali.  Themed “For People and Nature”, the congress attracted 2,400 participants from 52 African countries and beyond to address challenges and drive action for Africa’s Protected and Conserved Areas. On the agenda, were the key role of these areas in safeguarding the continent’s iconic wildlife, delivering vital ecosystem services, driving sustainable development, and conserving Africa’s cultural heritage and traditions.

At the opening, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente -who officiated at the ceremony reminded participants about the importance of biodiversity conservation,” Given the huge social and economic benefits of protected and conserved areas, it is my conviction that this Africa Protected Areas Congress will chart pathways towards resilient and sustainable conservation of our biodiversity for economies’ transformation,” said Rwanda’s Prime Minister.

“Africa is rich in biodiversity – perhaps the richest in the world. We have the most beautiful rivers, forests, mountains, and a variety of wildlife that can only be found on this continent. We must therefore spare no effort in protecting and conserving this diversity, “He added.

On the other hand, IUCN’s Director General, Dr Bruno Oberle said, “Protected and conserved areas in Africa have a complicated legacy, with conservation success too often coming at the expense of local communities. One key focus of the first-ever IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress is to give a voice to these marginalized communities, stressing their stewardship of nature and the need for inclusive and just conservation models under African leadership, and with global support.”

The congress ended with a call to action under the theme “For People and Nature”, the Congress identified priority actions to strengthen Africa’s protected and conserved areas in a manner that is just, equitable and fair. These actions include a strengthening of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, greater public and private financial investment in nature conservation and protected and conserved areas, and enhanced Pan-African collaboration, cooperation, and partnership for protected and conserved area systems throughout the continent. More on the call to action:

The IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) aims at positioning Africa protected and conserved areas within the broader goals of economic development and community well- being and to increase the understanding of vital role parks play in conserving biodiversity and delivering the ecosystem services that underpin human welfare and livelihoods. Several conservation events happened alongside the APAC Congress.

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) currently consists of Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International and the World Wide Fund for Nature. We recognise that the earth's survival is dependent on humanity's ability to maintain a healthy and balanced environment that includes all species of wildlife.