China and Africa to ramp up fight against wildlife crime
WWF welcomes this major announcement, which was detailed in the official FOCAC Declaration and Action Plan, but remains concerned that sustainability is not being integrated into the ambitious developmental plans announced for the African continent.
“The fact that there is a sub-section devoted to environmental concerns in the FOCAC Action Plan is a welcome indication that environmental awareness is beginning to find its way onto the China-Africa agenda,” said Fredrick Kumah, WWF Regional Director for Africa.
“However, given the unparalleled infrastructural growth slated for the continent through the FOCAC engagement, we had hoped to see a more integrated approach to sustainable development and a greater commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals rather than just a footnote,” Kumah added.
In the Action Plan, the two sides agreed to cooperate more closely in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade and to jointly help African countries to improve their wildlife protection capabilities, build the capacity of rangers, and ramp up efforts to tackle the poaching of endangered species, particularly elephants and rhinos.
The plan also commits China and Africa to share in intelligence gathering to “undermine the responsible syndicates, acknowledging their linkages to international organised crime”.
During the summit, the Chinese President Xi Jinping told African leaders that China would put US$60 billion into development projects and cancel debts under a three-year plan.
However, there is concern that some of the most pressing environmental issues facing the African continent have not been integrated into the plan, which also outlines a major push for infrastructural development – from more intensive agriculture through to rapid industrialisation on the continent.
“We salute president Xi’s insight that China-Africa cooperation is by no means at the expense of the African ecological environment and long-term interests,” said Dr Li Lin, WWF’s China for a Global Shift Initiative leader. “We would like to see full implementation of president Xi’s commitment into China-Africa cooperation, especially in sectors such as industry, sustainable finance, renewable energy and infrastructure.
“We would also like to see financial institutions playing a critical role in leveraging resource and energy efficient investments and ensuring energy access,” added Dr Li. “And we would like to see China-African cooperation exploring a new development path where we can all realise our development goals whilst living within the ecological limits of our planet.”
The Action Plan also contains promises to set up a China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Centre and both sides have agreed to work together to improve management of water resources.
“Africa, with its unique biodiversity, is at a crossroads. We can choose a path that takes us further down the road of environmental degradation or we can invoke the sustainable land-use planning and financial safeguards that will not only protect this continent’s treasures but also benefit its people in the long term,” said Kumah.
“Food, energy and water are the three key driver pressures for Africa. The sustainable development and use of these big three will be critical to people and nature. Chinese investments must ensure sustainability in this regard.”
Importantly, in relation to pledges made at the climate conference COP21 in Paris, the plan also incorporates undertakings to deepen cooperation on climate change and the transfer of knowledge around new, game-changing technologies to help to alleviate sub-Saharan Africa’s energy poverty