Botswana’s experience in the first capacity building workshop on the revision and updating of NBSAPs
In a first step towards assisting Parties to revise and update their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), the Secretariat recently organized the first NBSAP Capacity Building Workshop as per the guidance of the Conference of Parties (COP) contained in decision X/2. The regional workshop for southern Africa was held in Kasane, Botswana from 14 – 20 March 2011 in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism of Botswana. It also incorporated sessions on incentive measures, economics and valuation of biodiversity.
The workshop was a success on all counts. There was strong participation from the region, with 14 out of 15 countries represented at the workshop. The participants contributed to the intense and lively discussions that were held over the course of the week. They were able to engage with the presentations and exercises and exchange ideas on best practices, successes and challenges to NBSAP implementation. Most participants stated that the workshop was useful for their work in their countries.
The Botswana government chose Kasane as a setting that was conducive to the workshop, and being in an area with high levels of biodiversity helped to consolidate the theoretical aspects of the workshop. The field study visit highlighted the importance of biodiversity for poverty reduction, the need for strong policies on protected areas and the challenges of balancing trade-offs between different conservation imperatives.
From the perspective of the Government of Botswana, the workshop was an opportunity to showcase successes in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and the importance of biodiversity for development. As stated by Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Environment Wildlife and Tourism “… We need to talk about biodiversity in the context of the broader discussion on sustainable development. Biodiversity is one part of the jigsaw...”
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) which is responsible for revising and implementing the NBSAP found the training to be immensely useful. It assisted the country by providing capacity on amongst other things, the process of NBSAP revision, the development of priorities and national targets and the engagement of stakeholders. In fact, in the four weeks following the workshop, the Department has been busy consulting extensively with stakeholders and developing a road map towards the review of the NBSAP. It is expected that the development of the national biodiversity targets will be set by 31 March 2012, with the NBSAP revision process concluded by 31 March 2013.
Other governments also expressed their sentiments on the significance of the workshop. They underscored the fact that the lessons from the workshop would assist their countries in revising their NBSAPs and they pledged their intentions to do this within the timelines set by the COP. As the Minister stated, “Southern Africa is well-positioned to be a leader in biodiversity management.”