The launch of the second phase of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme, was preceded by a regional inception workshop for Southern Africa, that was held at the OR Tambo Southern Sun Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa, in April 2018.

The first part of the workshop included government and intergovernmental participants (30 participants from 14 Southern African countries) and was held on from 17 – 18 April; followed immediately by sessions with technical partners (33 participants from 7 countries)  on 19 and 20 April.

The focus of the government part of the inception workshop was to set regional priorities and for the technical partner workshop sessions to identify potential collaborators and partners to assist in working towards achieving the identified priorities.

The aim of the inception workshop was to ensure that all 14 countries in the Southern Africa region covered by the IUCN Eastern and Southern African Regional Office (ESARO) were engaged. The heads of protected area authorities, Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) coordinators, and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) focal points were invited from each country as appropriate. It was not possible to invite all the technical partners working on protected areas in the region and therefore only those working in multiple countries were invited. A broad range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in different areas, marine and terrestrial, were selected as well as a few resource persons with special technical skills and experience.

“The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) is excited to partner with the BIOPAMA initiative as capacity development within and surrounding Protected Areas has been identified as a high priority, said SAWC CEO, Theresa Sowry who attended the workshop. “Ensuring conservationists get trained in applied skills across the region, coupled with new technology can really add value to conserving our natural heritage”, she added.

The main objectives of the regional inception workshop were:

  • To enhance understanding of the objectives and expected results from the BIOPAMA programme;
  • To identify key priorities for BIOPAMA in the Southern African region;
  • To identify focal points for the implementation of BIOPAMA.

Leo Niskanen, Technical Coordinator for the Conservation Areas and Species Diversity Programme for Eastern and Southern Africa, gave an overview of the BIOPAMA programme and provided an overview of BIOPAMA, which:

  • Covers all Protected Area management categories and governance types
  • Covers all biomes including marine and freshwater protected areas
  • Works at different scales from individual protected area level to national protected area systems
  • Is focused on strengthening the governance and management of Protected Areas through the provision of information, capacity and targeted small and medium-sized grants
  • Builds on existing initiatives and works through partners

BIOPAMA is not:

  • Restricted to one type of Protected Area
  • A financing mechanism for government-managed Protected Areas
  • A general biodiversity conservation programme
  • Intending to ‘reinvent the wheel’.

Both the first and second workshops were facilitated by Dr Holly Dublin. The objective of the first workshop with the government participants was to capture priorities for the region, particularly as relates to national and regional commitments to multilateral environmental agreements. It was deemed appropriate that these should come primarily from government agencies. The objective of the technical workshop was to discuss areas for collaboration based on the identified regional priorities.

The BIOPAMA programme is an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF), jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC).

BIOPAMA, Southern African Wildlife College, Theresa Sowry
SAWC CEO, Theresa Sowry (far right), who attended the BIOPAMA Regional Inception Workshop is pictured with the other participants.