The summit, jointly organised by the Zimbabwean government, AU and UN, is expected to be officially opened by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday.
One of the outcomes of the summit is expected to be the launch of the African Wildlife Economy Initiative, an Africa-led vision of conservation aimed at linking the private sector with national authorities and local communities in the design and financing of conservation-compatible investments that deliver sustainable economic and ecological benefits to countries, people and the environment.
The idea is to save wildlife and preserve livelihoods by creating an effective wildlife economy on the continent where there is peaceful and sustainable co-existence between humans and the wildlife. This can be achieved through sustainable and coordinated land-use planning and wildlife management.
“Africa has made significant headway in protecting natural spaces and conserving wildlife and ecosystems,” AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Correia Sacko, said.
She added: “It is high time to boost economies through Africa-led public-private partnerships that place communities at the heart of investment, while taking into account the need to continue the conservation pathway.”
Businesses built on Africa’s natural landscapes and wildlife – including tourism, the harvesting of plants and natural products for food, cosmetics or medicines, among others, employ millions of people and earn governments billions of dollars in revenue.
The summit is being held under the theme “Communities for Conservation, Harnessing Conservation Tourism, and Supporting Governments”.
Several ministerial delegations are attending the conference, as well as private sector tourism and conservation investors, representatives from communities, conservation scientists and policymakers.