Maun — President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has urged parties to the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) to scale up their efforts if they want to address the pertinent issues of climate change and contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Officiating at the fifth anniversary celebration of the inaugural ministerial meeting of the GDSA in Maun on October 11, he said issues of environment and sustainable development were pertinent to people in Africa.
He appreciated that as the five year progress reports showed, they were collectively on the right track, but emphasised the need to double efforts to do more and achieve a lot.
He explained that the depletion of natural capital threatened the social and economic sustenance of the majority of the people and reduced their capacity to attain sustainable development.
"Given the natural resources endowment in our continent, this is something we should avoid at all costs," he said.
The President also reiterated that Botswana was proud to be one of the founding signatories of the GDSA, whose vision was to ensure that the nature on which people depended for their wellbeing was valued, respected and managed, not just for this generation, but for future generation as well.
However, President Khama informed the gathering that Botswana had made visible strides as part of the national commitment towards the objectives of the declaration.
He shared some of the few efforts through which the country infused the aspirations of the declaration into the national programmes such as the current National Development Plan 11, in which the country integrated the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development into policy decisions, thereby recognising that natural capital was a primary sources of income.
The country, he said also engaged in the development of Sustainable Development Framework, the Climate Change Policy and Vision 2036, simultaneously providing the opportunity for further integration of a sustainable development pathway into the national development planning processes.
"As such, the GDSA is consistent with our national long term vision as well as to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our commitments made under the Paris Agreement," he added.
President Khama also wished the GDSA member countries to continue growing in numbers and that they increase efforts to implement the objectives of the declaration.
Currently, he said they covered 25 per cent of the number of nations and their territorial space in Sub-Saharan Africa and hoped to see that growing within the next five years.
He urged the member countries to be all ambassadors of the declaration and have conversation with their colleagues on the issues in order to encourage them to join and walk together the noble path.
Giving a background of the declaration, he explained to the gathering that in 2012, heads of states and government came together in Gaborone with international partners, principally Conservation International, where they committed to implementing all conventions and declarations that promoted sustainability for development.
As signatories to the GDSA, he said they agreed to take action on a number of priority areas for future development including 'inter alia that we must intergrate the value of nature through natural capital accounting into national policies and programmes, recognising that nature was needed for economic growth and sustainability.
He said there was consensus that all must build the knowledge, capacity and policy networks to promote leadership and a new model in the field of sustainable development to increase momentum for positive change.
Furthermore, it was also agreed that countries must reduce poverty by transitioning agriculture, extractive industries, fisheries and other economic uses of nature to practices that promote sustainable employment, food security, sustainable energy and the protection of nature including protected areas.