In Africa, there is growing potential for markets and payments for the ecosystem services (PES), including deals related to carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation and watershed protection. These emerging markets and payments have the potential to encourage sustainable land management, conserve biodiversity and improve rural livelihoods throughout the continent.
Today, however, PES in Africa occurs on an ad hoc basis and primarily as small-scale pilot projects. Information gaps, lack of capacity to design and manage projects and the absence of institutions to support on-the-ground implementation have largely hindered efforts to scale up.
The East and Southern Africa Katoomba Groups regional conference aims to address these impediments by providing a forum to deepen and develop a shared understanding of PES in the region. The gathering also seeks to strengthen Governments role as supporters of PES and creators of an enabling environment for private sector investment in PES. In addition, the meeting will launch the East & Southern Africa Katoomba Group Network, with a view to stimulating and nurturing the development of markets for environmental services through ongoing information exchange and capacity building.
The conference builds on a similar gathering held in Uganda in September 2005 which brought together more than 70 experts from eastern and southern Africa, Europe, North America and Australia. The meeting in Uganda demonstrated that African countries have become increasingly interested in market-based conservation strategies such as payments for ecosystem services (PES) over recent years and a number of projects have emerged.
The 2006 meeting will be the second gathering of the Katoomba Group in the East and Southern African region. This event will bring together representatives from African and international NGOs, private business and industry associations, the rural development community, as well as political leaders interested in spurring the growth of environmental markets. During the meeting, participants will be exposed to and informed about some of the challenges and lessons learned from examples of environmental markets around the world and in Africa. While the focus is on East and Southern Africa, examples and speakers will be drawn from international and national initiatives.
We look forward to a fruitful discussion on how to scale up PES in East and Southern Africa and how to shape a vibrant regional Katoomba Group network.