The Consortium of African Funds for the Environment (CAFÉ) recently held its 8th General Assembly from 3 to 7 September 2018 at Cresta Mowana Safari Lodge in Kasane, Botswana.

This took place under the theme of Fundraising and Climate Financing.

The Assembly was officially opened by the Botswana Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Honourable Tshekedi Khama.

In his words, now is the time for countries to harness environmental and natural resources opportunities available.

“We need to protect natural resources and manage them in a sustainable manner,” he said. Khama was also quick to share some strides Botswana has registered in protecting wildlife and the entire biodiversity.

Among them is the hunting ban which the government instituted in 2014. Such efforts clearly become more appealing and well placed when one considers how loss of biodiversity alone is negatively affecting a billion people on the planet.

The workshop

Ken Andrasko of AltaVerde Consulting from the United States of America (USA) facilitated the 4-day workshop on Fundraising and Climate Financing. A complete natural resources and development consultant, with vast experience in the field, Ken judiciously delivered what he knows best, with practical examples.

“Great organization, terrific case studies and presentations as well as thematic approaches that brought interesting discussions and potential synergies,” said Silvia Rojas Fernandez, Executive Director of Costa Rica’s Environmental Bank Foundation, in describing the General Assembly.

The same was also freely echoed by Mariana Galvao, Project Manager of the Brazilian Fund for the Biodiversity. She harbours no regrets for having flown all the way from Brazil, just for this General Assembly.

According to her, the Assembly’s theme well captured “probably the main topic for every Environmental Fund, and especially how to fundraise in an innovative way.” Galvao added that this is very crucial “as the traditional sources of finances for biodiversity conservation are becoming each day more scarce and selective.”

The workshop was also spiced up with worthy presentations from participants from various countries including Colombia, USA, Ivory Coast, Namibia, just to mention a few. The presentations centred on participants’ respective best practices and success stories on sundry fundraising initiatives for the environment.

The Boat Cruise

The late afternoon hours of the first day were reserved for the Boat Cruise along the mighty Chobe River. It was simply a perfect choice for an annual meet on environmental welfare. Besides that the river boarders Botswana and Namibia, this great resource also offers a lot to visitors. Cruising along this river, you couldn’t help but appreciate the lovely sight of all sorts of wild animals especially on the Botswana side where there is Chobe National Park.

But as crocodile-infested as the river is, together with its sister Chobe National Park whose wildlife are dearly protected by law, they enviably contribute to making Botswana’s economy afloat and blossoming.

According to World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2017 report, in 2017 alone, the total contribution of travel and tourism to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was USD 1, 623.8 million. This is besides 68,500 jobs which this sector supported in Botswana in 2016 as total employment contribution.

Other leisure activities that took place at the event include a visit to the Victoria Falls and the Game Drive at Chobe National Park.

The Family Grows

The fourth day of the Assembly had a closed session for CAFÉ Members only. This is where, among others, new membership applications into the network are presented before the Members and tabled for approval in keeping with the CAFÉ Charter.

At this session, CAFÉ Members saw the network growing as it warmly welcomed Community Conservation Fund of Namibia (CCFN) into this wonderful family. CCFN was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Tapiwa Makiwa.

For its smooth operations in agreement with its objectives, CAFÉ Members also approved and adopted a five-year Strategic Plan to run from 2019 to 2023.

The Assembly was successfully hosted by Forest Conservation Botswana (FCB). On the side of donors, Constance Corbier represented the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM).

Moving Forward

CAFÉ’s 2019 (9th) General Assembly is set to take place in Benin and will be hosted by the Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA).

According to CAFÉ President, Karen Price, “climate change continues to threaten the development agenda in most countries as nations strive to mitigate or adapt to its impacts.”

As such, Price had this one message to Environmental Funds in her opening remarks: they “have no choice but to constantly evolve in response to these changing circumstances and to reposition themselves to engage with the complexities that define the climate financing architecture.”

Price looks at the recently held General Assembly as simply “a landmark event for CAFÉ.”

Khama making his opening remarks
Andrasko facilitating during the capacity building workshop
Participants sharing notes during the boat cruise in the Chobe River
Price (in red) welcomes CCFN’s Makiwa into the network

Mr. Joshua Moloi, Chief Executive Officer of Forest Conservation Botswana (FCB), with Ms. Price