By Our Reporter
As large businesses continue to set up in Africa, fragile ecosystems are likely to be depleted if investors and policy makers do not adequately consider the value of ecosystems in their investment decisions.
“To create real economic development that benefits all people in Africa, the sustainability of ecosystems on which the global economy depends must be guaranteed. The reality in Africa is that some important investments will fall in protected areas, forests, wetlands, etc,” said Kaddu Sebunya, president of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), an organisation that advocates for the “protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa.”
Sebunya was speaking on September 5 during The Global African Investment Summit in Kigali. According to the AWF top honcho, without adequate environmental risk assessment, many businesses will most likely be allowed to set up in the continent’s fragile ecosystems: semi-arid lands, forests, mountains, wetlands, small islands, coastal areas, etc.
“With a sustained rise in investment by those keen to be a part of Africa’s growth story, and the continued neglect of ecological systems services, you, the investor and Africa stand to reap irreversible degradation of our ecological assets and long-term returns on your investments,” Sebuyna said.
Inasmuch as economic development programmes are important, investment should rely on the sustainable use of Africa’s natural resources, Sebunya averred.
“The battle for conservation is not so much about lost ecosystems,” he said, “but rather, it is one about our ability to live on this continent into the next 50 years… African Wildlife Foundation believes that investment and conservation are not strange bedfellows.”
At the same event, AWF signed a memorandum of understanding with The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to ensure that wildlife habitats are least negatively impacted by economic development.