KIGALI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- More than 2,400 delegates at a conservation conference in Rwanda Saturday adopted the Kigali Call to Action declaration, committing countries to greater public and private financial investment in nature conservation, protected and conserved areas.
The declaration was adopted at the closure of the inaugural Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) in Rwanda's capital city Kigali.
The declaration underlined several other priority actions to be undertaken in order to strengthen Africa's protected and conserved areas in a manner that is just, equitable and fair.
These include strengthening of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, enhanced Pan-African collaboration, cooperation and partnership for protected and conserved area systems throughout the continent.
"We must put people at the center of conservation if we are to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves and move to actions," said Jeanne D'Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda's Minister of Environment in her closing remarks.
The six-day event held under the theme "For People and Nature" drew participants from 52 African countries and beyond to address challenges and drive action for Africa's protected and conserved areas.
It was organized by Rwanda in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), an international conservation organization.
Bruno Oberle, the IUCN Director General said the inaugural congress highlighted that Africa's protected and conserved areas are vital for nature and biodiversity, but also for African peoples' livelihoods and cultures.
"It [congress] has formed an unprecedented and diverse coalition that includes governments and civil society stakeholders such as youth, indigenous peoples and local communities as well as protected area directors and rangers to strengthen protection and conservation," he said.
The congress further showed that the importance of conservation is non-negotiable, according to Kaddu Sebunya, the chief executive of AWF.
"Therefore, we call upon all African governments to actualize their commitments to safeguard nature and actively engage with all relevant stakeholders in the creation of A Pan-African Conservation Trust that honors the strong statements within The Kigali Call to Action. Let us get to work," he said. ■