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August 17, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Seventh Edition of our Africa Weekly Digest - A round-up of the news and stories from across the continent that captivated our hearts and minds this past week. We hope you enjoy these stories and we look forward to your feedback.

Happy reading!

1. Megafauna Conservation Index Recognises Seven Countries in Africa as Best in Wildlife Conservation: The Index produced by Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in partnership with Panthera assesses the spatial, ecological, and financial contributions of 152 different countries towards the conservation of the world's terrestrial megafauna - large land animals. Botswana, Central African Republic, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania, and Rwanda have been recognized among the top 10. In other great news for Africa’s Biodiversity, a new Analysis combining the most important places for biodiversity with areas where forests are still relatively intact identified sites in Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea as the most Important Forests for Biodiversity and Conservation Remaining in Central Africa. This research by WCS will guide conservation efforts to focus on these places, and help forest management, infrastructure, and other land-use planning to avoid impacting biodiversity.  This coincides with the first of its kind “Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Networks and Corridors” calling for greater connectivity between protected areas.

2. Celebrating World Elephant Day with a New Tool to Crack Down Illegal Ivory Trade:  As Governments and businesses look to crack down on the illegal ivory trade, CITES Secretariat, TRAFFIC, and WWF  have updated a guide meant to make it easier for law enforcement and e-commerce monitors to identify ivory and determine what species it originated from. At least 20,000 elephants have been killed in the past decade in Africa to supply the global trade in ivory. There is some good news though.  WWF has been supporting the Government of Central Africa Republic to preserve the last remaining forest elephants in Dzanga Sangha National Reserve and progress is being made. See more in this video by PBS’s Monica Villamizar and videographer Phil Callershining (National Geographic Channel). And read more about more in this magnificent Photo essay by The Atlantic. 

3. On World Lions Day - Africa steps up efforts to save approximately 25,000 lions in the wild. African lions have lost 90 percent of their historic range and lion numbers have crashed from as many as 200,000 lions just 100 years ago to approximately 25,000 according to a recent CITES report.  To celebrate #LionsDay,  Blood Lions in partnership with World Animal Protection launched the 800 Voices for 800 Lions campaign to mobilize global action toward ending illegal wildlife trade. See how WWF is supporting lion conservation - here and here. Also, check out this video on how technology is helping researchers study the behavior of lions in the Serengeti national park.

4. Chimpanzees Get Reprieve as Cameroon Halts Logging Plan. Tool-wielding chimpanzees and lowland gorillas in Cameroon received a reprieve after the government suspended a plan to allow logging in a forest that’s their home. WWF-Cameroon and other local organizations lobbied the state to withdraw a July decree that made part of the area the private property of the state and would have opened it up for logging. The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee endemic to the area uses sticks to fish for termites and hammer-like stones and wooden clubs to crack open nuts, according to Global Wildlife Conservation. While those actions have been observed among other chimpanzee subspecies, Ebo Forest is the only place where the apes display both skills. The 141,706-hectare (350,163-acre) reserve was designated as a proposed National Park in 2006 and is rich in biodiversity, with elephants, gray parrots as well as the unique chimpanzees. The Government had said July 14 it would declare almost half the Ebo Forest a so-called Forest Management Unit, opening it up for logging. The decision to bring 68,385 hectares of the forest under direct state control was withdrawn on the orders of President Paul Biya, and the procedure to convert it into a forest management unit has been suspended, according to an Aug. 11 statement from the prime minister’s office. ( (Bloomberg-Africa). 

5. Climate Change could create up to 86 million additional migrants in sub- Saharan Africa. This is according to the  2020 Global Peace Index which for the first time includes a special focus on the  Ecological Threat Register (ETR). The ETR combines a set of ecological risks with Positive Peace and economic coping capacity. Climate change-induced ecological threats are strongly correlated with Positive Peace, suggesting that high peace countries have a greater capacity to adapt to climate change and deal with its adverse impacts. (2020 Global Peace Index). In other news, Climate Finance to developing countries increased by 67 percent according to the latest report on the MDB Climate Finance. Sub-Saharan Africa was among the regions with the largest proportions of adaptation finance.  African countries are already making bold moves to address Climate Change. For example, Uganda has launched Africa’s first electric buses to promote industrialization while fighting pollution and in a ‘landmark’ ruling,  South Africa has tightened restrictions for new coal power plants.  A top tribunal scrapped water licenses for the 600MW Khanyisa coal plant, saying the developer had failed to consider the impact of climate change. (Climate Change News).

6. Mauritius ecological disaster worsens as wrecked ship breaks up: Rescue authorities said they had already been able to siphon most of the remaining oil from the vessel’s fuel tanks but the breakage of the ship will further complicate rescue efforts. While the cause of the accident is still being investigated and compensation is being sought from Nagashiki Shipping, which owns the vessel, the damage to the country’s reputation as an island paradise is hard to quantify. More people — 1.4 million  — visit the nation every year than live on it. Resorts ring its coast and tourism account for a third of foreign-exchange earnings. Reports suggest the oil may now be spreading north, threatening the most popular hotels. And the protracted legal proceedings that may follow will be of little comfort to the islanders, who have endured months without the visitors that allow them to make a living and have now had their hopes of a quick recovery snuffed out. Greenpeace Africa, the environmental group, has called for an independent investigation into why the ship came so close to the reef as it crossed the island’s waters, which are on an international route connecting Asia to the southern tip of Africa. (Financial Times).

7. Globe Scan 2020 Survey recognizes WWF among Sustainability Leaders for the second year in a row with a spike in recognition since last year.  WWF and other 9 NGOs were recognized for advancing sustainable development through collaboration. The 2020 survey  also revealed that Climate change, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity remain the most urgent sustainability challenges according to the survey results, with climate change generating strong concern almost universally. In the wake of the global pandemic and economic recession, concern about poverty, economic inequality, access to healthcare, and food security – along with the spread of infectious disease – are increasingly seen as very urgent. The challenge of diversity and inclusion also receives increasing attention among sustainability professionals in 2020.(Globescan). 

8. Impact Investing increases possibilities for young girls in AfricaThis year’s international youth day, held on August 12,  highlights the importance and value of young people’s contributions to business and politics and draws lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.  A new report published last month — in a partnership between UNICEF, the GenderSmart Investing Summit, and Volta Capital — has outlined the opportunities to reach more adolescent girls and young women by increasing private capital investment and impact in this area. The proportion of adolescent girls and young women that are not in education, employment or training in sub- Saharan Africa, is twice as high for female youth - 24% among adolescent girls and young women (aged 15 to 29) and 13% among males. Moringa School in Kenya and Rwanda, a social enterprise built with a blended private and philanthropic financing partnership is a great example. The school has spent the last five years developing a bespoke curriculum for young adult students, both in the classroom and online, that combines skills in software development and data science with essential transferable skills for work. With a 90% job placement rate for the predominantly female graduates, it’s a bold example of what’s possible and a clear statement of change for the next generation of tech leaders. Michele Obama and Melinda Gates have been strong opinion shapers and champions of the rights of girls and young women. In their latest opinion piece they shine a light on the successes some organizations in Africa have made toward championing the rights girls and young women, stating that even as we continue to work together to solve the challenges posed by Covid-19 we must take strong action to make sure girls everywhere have a chance to learn, to stay healthy and to stay safe - not just for their sake, but for all of ours. 

9. Africa COVID 19 News Roundup:  New COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa launched on Tuesday August 10th brings more than 30 members together in “the largest mobilization of private resources to deliver PPE  to 1 million frontline health workers. A new report from UNCTAD shows Africa’s Natural resource-dependent Economies exposed as FDI reduces due to COVID: The total value of greenfield investments in Africa in the first three months of 2020 fell 58 percent. Prices of exports, including oil and copper, slumped and investors pulled funds from frontier markets in search of safer investments. The African Union aims to drive growth by focusing on domestic production and intra-African trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which will create a single tariff-free $3tn market. The first commercial deal under an Africa-wide free trade zone is set to take place on Jan. 1 Negotiation for the AfCFTA will be finalized through a new African Virtual Trade-Diplomacy Platform that is being developed as a public-private partnership between the African Union Commission and more than 20 African multinational companies. (Bloomberg).  

10. WWF launches one of a kind Top 100 Young Conservation leaders Award. The prestigious award is part of ongoing efforts to partner with brilliant young innovators and conservation leaders across the African continent who are already using their own initiative to transform communities. The award invites networks and conservation organizations to submit nominations before September 30, 2020. More information on the eligibility criteria and the nomination process can be found here: (Africa  Top 100 Young Conservation Leaders). 





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