Africa is at a crossroads. Its population is growing exponentially — it is predicted there will be 2.5 billion people living on the continent by 2050. The need for additional infrastructure, as well as more land for agriculture and human settlement, is real. What areas of Africa should be protected and which ones will be traded off for development? What is the role of wildlife and wild lands in Africa’s development? The future of these unique continental natural resources is directly tied to decisions Africans are currently making about economic development and population ascendency.
It is the African Wildlife Foundation’s belief that if Africa does not quickly and directly tackle issues surrounding conservation and development — while the continent is still in these formative stages of economic development — then the potential positive socioeconomic, political, and environmental gains, could be short-lived. The outcome of the discussion about whether to link conservation and development or not will determine what will be left of wildlife and the wild lands on the continent.
The rapid changes impacting modern Africa dictate that AWF must focus and redefine our vision, evolve strategic approaches, and adapt purposeful African ownership to deliver sustainable conservation impacts.
In AWF’s new ten-year strategic vision, we hope to change the debate, proposing that African governments do not have to choose conservation over development or vice versa. This is a false choice. The correct question is how to embrace the future and create an Africa that makes wildlife and wild lands the centerpiece of sustainable development — recognizing their unique and inherent value.
As we begin implementation of this vision and address the challenges of the new mission, we are keenly aware that the most crucial factor in AWF’s work is people: our staff, trustees, donors, and our partners — governments, communities, youth, private sector, and institutional that are working toward a more sustainable Africa. Without them our grand vision, strategic plans, and work on the ground wouldn’t be possible. We thank each of you and going forward, we will continue working together to strengthen AWF via this game-changing vision that prioritizes Africa’s wildlife, the people of Africa and their future, as well as the policies that govern them.
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