The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi and Country Director of the World Bank, Mark Lundell opened the International Conference on Nature-Based Tourism, on June 7th, which took place in Maputo City. The opening ceremony was witnessed by more than 600 people from around 30 countries.
The conference brought together policymakers, government, local opinion makers, conservationists, entrepreneurs, academia and investors/donors to facilitate knowledge exchange, learning and foster collaboration. Among the guests, the presence of the former President of Botswana Ian Khama, who is considered one of the great defenders of conservation areas.
The goal of the Conference was to explore opportunities to maximize finance for Nature-Based Tourism and promote long-term public-private partnerships that deliver benefits for people and wildlife, It was hosted by The Government of Mozambique in collaboration with the Global Wildlife Program and the World Bank team in Mozambique.
The tourism sector is the largest, global, market-based contributor to financing PA systems. NBT is a sub-component of the tourism sector that includes wildlife-based tourism. NBT is a powerful tool that countries can leverage to grow and diversify their economies while protecting their biodiversity and protected areas, and contributing to sustainable development goals.
Protected Areas (PAs) are vital to conserving wildlife species and promoting ecosystem services. However, funding for the management of PAs is insufficient and severely dependent on international aid funding and allocations made by the government from depleting national budgets. Thus, there is an urgent need to expand and diversify PA financing mechanisms through tourism revenues, co-management models, and public-private partnerships so as to facilitate the revenue earning the potential of protected areas and ensures long-term environmental conservation and economic development.
This three-day conference shared the lessons learned between countries and partners and enhance the understanding of challenges and opportunities of co-management models for Protected Areas. It also provided an opportunity for the Government of Mozambique to promote private sector investments in conservation areas.