Mr Valli Moosa, former President of IUCN (2004-2008) shares his thoughts on Day 1 of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Conservation Forum. Mr Moosa is Executive Chairman of Lereko Group as well as Vice Chair of WWF South Africa, an IUCN Member.
Speaking personally, it’s a wonderful feeling to be at an IUCN gathering. It is all the more pleasurable that this IUCN meeting is being held in Johannesburg, my home town. Often, in the past, IUCN meetings for me meant travelling to the airport, flying off to a distant country, but here I could simply take the train and arrive in a short space of time!
I am impressed with the attendance at the Forum and think that there is a remarkable group of people gathered here from a number of African countries. Thus far, the presentations made have been extremely interesting and I thought that the opening comments made by the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, the Hon. Ms R Mabudafhasi, were extremely appropriate for the topics we are discussing here: forests, food security and financing in a changing climate.
As far as trends in South Africa are concerned, we’re at a point where there’s greater and greater degree of alignment between different sectors of society on environmental questions. It’s no longer a question of having environmentalists on one side, the private sector on the other, and the government somewhere in between.
I believe that environmental protection, by and large, has been mainstreamed – it is considered to be quite normal to take environmental considerations into account when undertaking development. I also think environmentalists have a great deal of influence on Southern Africa societies.
However, that said, there is still an inadequate response to the challenges we face, particularly climate change, largely because the true negative impacts of global warming are yet to be felt. Not enough is being done for adaptation and this is impacting on one of the key topics being discussed at the Forum: food security.