President Ian Khama has been honoured by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) with a lifetime honorary membership for his “life-long commitment to the environment”.
Government spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay, said that the award to President Khama was presented by Prince Carl Phillip of Sweden, an IUCN patron, and was received on the President’s behalf by Botswana’s ambassador to Japan, Pule Mphothwe. He added that it consists of a certificate and a citation. It was created at the founding of IUCN in 1948.
There have been many distinguished recipients in the past.
┬áHe revealed that the government of Botswana has been a state member of the IUCN since 1991, and has jointly carried out some important conservation activities such as the Okavango Management Development Plan, the Kalahari-Namib trans-boundary land management programme, the Orange-Senqu trans boundary water management, the Zambezi Basin Wetlands Conservation and Resource Utilization Project and the National Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM).
“He has a keen interest in community participatory conservation projects and in 1990 mobilized the people of Botswana to establish the Khama Rhino Sanctuary at a time when there were only six animals left in Botswana,” said Ramsay.
He added that in 1991, he became the first chair and founding trustee of Mokolodi nature reserve (educational park in Botswana) and is now the Patron of the Trust. Ramsay stated that Khama has encouraged and promoted conservation trusts like Moremi Gorge, Lepokole Hills historical sites, and Qchwihaba caves: local projects that benefit communities through ecotourism. He said he also started Botswana’s first anti- poaching unit through KCS and introduced the Botswana Defence Force?anti-poaching function, which still undertakes that function to date.
“In May 2012 he co-hosted, together with Conservation International, a summit on sustainable development in Africa that brought together ten African nations and numerous public and private sector partners to voice their support for the value of natural capital in national accounting,” said Ramsay.
He stated that the summit culminated in the Gaborone Declaration, which contains a set of concrete principles and development goals that move the value of natural capital to the centre of development planning.
Khama was one of 11 individuals so honoured at the Congress, of which the other awardees included Dr Abdulaziz Abuzinada, Saudi Arabia, Ms Angela Cropper, Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Aila Keto, Australia and Mr Veit Koester, Denmark.
Headquartered in Switzerland, the IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, whose membership consists of more than a thousand government and NGO member organizations.