As prepared for delivery.
Your Excellency, Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, ICCF Chairman David Barron, distinguished friends and colleagues.
It is my great honour to join you in this reception with a focus on one of my favorite countries, Mozambique, to discuss a topic equally close to my heart: protected areas and sustainable development.
Over the last 15 years alone, UNDP has supported 130 countries in implementing over 250 protected area projects, improving management effectiveness of over 2,504 conservation areas including indigenous and community conserved areas.
Many of these projects promote development of a robust protected area tourism concession system and public-private partnerships, as a mechanism for strengthening protected area management, increasing financing and achieving sustainable and equitable development.
Run effectively, protected area concessions, represent public-private partnerships that foster rural development and provide business and economic opportunities from conservation.
We have seen this in an increasing number of countries including many in Africa - Namibia, Malawi, Rwanda, and of course Mozambique.
The Gorongosa story is one of the most inspiring of all. How the government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation managed to succeed in large-scale restoration of the park – restoring the nature and ecosystems and rewilding the area, and the dramatic return of wildlife. Many hundreds of jobs created.
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Lab is offering world class education, research opportunities, providing essential scientific data for the park management and creating generations of young Mozambique scientists. And a range of tourism facilities that provide financial means for maintaining the integrity of the park and growing the country’s tourism sector.
Your dedicated work and long-term partnerships have demonstrated how restoration of an area ravaged by civil war is possible; how we can restore ecosystems and bring back wildlife in ways that balance their needs and those of the surrounding community.
Your commitment, results, and hope have brought in many new partners to the table, catalyzing financing and support. National Geographic, USAID, ICCF, Global Environment Facility (GEF) to name but a few. As well as UNDP - through the ongoing GEF-financed project with an investment of $7 million as part of the $15.7 million project to strengthening the conservation of globally threatened species in Mozambique. We are very happy to be part of the grand vision of pursuing biodiversity conservation and sustainable human development.
Mozambique has demonstrated that wildlife has not only intrinsic environmental value, but also a significant economic value. You have shown the viability of a new generation of protected areas that act as engines for local and national development. And the potential for replicating your achievements is immense.
And, so, if we were to summarize your success, I would choose: Passion, Perseverance and Partnerships for People and Planet. Thank you.