African scientists call for policy shift to attain biodiversity targets

The attainment of biodiversity restoration targets agreed by the international community, governments and donors will be realized subject to policy reforms, sufficient funding and greater community involvement, African scientists said in a study released in Nairobi on Tuesday.

According to the study titled "Integrating biodiversity targets from local to global levels", there is an urgency to reshape policies and legislation governing the conservation of habitats, ensuring they are people-centered and inclusive.

The study called for action on social and economic drivers of biodiversity loss, adding that strengthening the resilience of local communities should run concurrently with the conservation of habitats.

David Obura, lead author of the study and Director at Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO East Africa), said conserving biodiversity hotspots should aim at sustaining livelihoods and boosting climate resilience at the grassroots.

Obura said that subsistence farmers, pastoralists and indigenous people should be involved in restoring pristine landscapes that are a source of water, food, fiber and timber.

He said pursuing a conservation model that is naturally positive and people-centered will hasten the implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that outlines ambitious targets for restoring degraded habitats.

The African scientists and conservationists involved in the study on the paradigm shift in habitat protection said outcomes of the 15th conference of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity slated for Kunming, China from Oct. 11-24 will determine how humanity relates with nature in the future.

Fred Kwame Kumah, vice president, External Affairs at Nairobi-based African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said that future efforts to conserve habitats must factor social, economic and cultural needs of local communities.

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