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African financial institutions pledge to protect, restore nature

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Nairobi (New Ziana) – Some of Africa’s largest financial institutions have backed a call to conserve and restore nature amid a biodiversity crisis that threatens the wellbeing and livelihoods of tens of millions of people.

The landmark “Nature Voices Pledge” was launched in Nairobi on Tuesday by the African Natural Capital Alliance (ANCA), a collaborative membership organization whose collective assets total US$390 billion. Among its members are major financial institutions such as Standard Chartered Bank, KCB, Equity Bank, Ecobank, Access Bank, DBSA, Zanaco, FirstRand, Investec, Sanlam, Old Mutual, CalBank, ICEA Lion and Fidelity Shield.

The Pledge commits the ANCA membership, which also includes governmental organizations such as the Ghana Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and civil society organizations including the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)), to support conservation and restoration efforts, integrate nature into their decision-making and promote sustainable financing solutions.

This pledge comes amid growing evidence that the natural capital on which tens of millions of Africans depend is being lost due to over-exploitation, over-population, land-use changes and climate change, among other factors.

The value of the natural capital lost to Africa annually is estimated to be $195 billion, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

The “Nature Voices Pledge” was announced at a Presidential Panel titled “Pioneering the Future of Nature in Africa” which was hosted by the Africa Climate Summit 2023.

Supported by ANCA, the event brought together leaders from several African nations including the presidents of Rwanda, Republic of Congo and Burundi, and engaged in the high-level dialogue on the future of nature in Africa.

It provided a platform for African leaders to discuss key challenges, opportunities, and policy interventions aimed at promoting nature and biodiversity for sustainable development across the continent.

‘Nature Voices Pledge’ encapsulates the shared commitment of ANCA’s member institutions to prioritize nature-positive practices and integrate environmental considerations into their core operations.

Dorothy Maseke, Head of ANCA Secretariat and Lead of Nature Finance at FSD Africa, said: “We in Africa are privileged to live on a continent so rich in natural capital but we must also recognise that our economy and well-being depends on using it sustainably.’’

Kaddu Sebunya, Chief Executive Officer, AWF, said: “As we stand on the cusp of the Africa Climate Summit, we come with a resounding message of hope, unity, and action. We support the Nature Voices Pledge and believe unity is essential to ensure the realization of nature’s conservation in Africa for prosperity and future generations.’’

New Ziana

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