The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) joined Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States and Regional Partners in a three-day workshop to validate the Regional Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) from 8 to 10 April 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The workshop, convened by the SADC Secretariat in collaboration with The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), saw more than 80 representatives from SADC Member States, environment and agriculture sectors, development partners, and the private sector meeting to review and validate the revised draft SADC BSAP developed with technical and financial support of FAO under the European Union (EU) funded Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries Phase 3 (ACP-MEAs 3) project.

Biodiversity initiatives in the region have been guided by the first SADC Regional Biodiversity Strategy of 2008 and the 2010 SADC Regional Action Plan. The reviewed SADC BSAP will cover 10 years (2025-2035) and will be aligned with the African Union’s Biodiversity strategy and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The SADC BSAP will play a crucial role in addressing the main drivers of biodiversity loss, such as over-utilization and inappropriate use of external inputs in agriculture and climate change. This plan is designed to benefit the people of Southern Africa.

 

Although biodiversity is a central component of food systems, conventional food systems have become one of the major drivers of biodiversity loss globally. There is an increasing need to transform food systems to provide sufficient and nutritious food with minimal negative impacts on the environment and society. Developing locally appropriate biodiversity-based solutions could offer a sustainable pathway for this transformation.

In line with this ethos, FANRPAN and its partners recently launched the Community-Based Adaptation: Scaling up Community Action for Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Southern Africa and Beyond (CBA-SCALE Southern Africa+) project, funded by the German Government's Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV-IKI). This climate-based adaptation project is being implemented in three countries: Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its focus is building community resilience to climate change while safeguarding ecosystems and biodiversity in Southern Africa and beyond.

Speaking at the meeting, FANRPAN’s Director of Policy Research and Analysis, Ms Sithembile Mwamakamba, welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the revision of the SADC BSAP and called for creative approaches that utilize biodiversity for food and agriculture and to diversify food systems supply chains and public food procurement, including innovative approaches that incentivize demand and desirability for food biodiversity.

She noted the need for the strategy to recognize community-based approaches and locally led actions as pivotal to biodiversity conservation efforts. She called for the integration of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) considerations to further enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of the strategic framework.

The SADC BSAP will guide the review and update of National Biodiversity Strategies and action plans, which are critical for the SADC Member States to meet their obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and other related Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

FANRPAN reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the SADC Secretariat and Member States in conserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and achieving sustainable development objectives through the promotion of evidence-based policies and strategies for food security and poverty reduction, recognizing the critical importance of biodiversity conservation in achieving these overarching goals. FANRPAN commends the SADC Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization for their leadership in revising the Strategy and commitment to inclusive stakeholder engagement.