The Botswana Symposium on Wetlands and Wildlife billed for Maun from the 17th to the 19th of March is expected to attract more than two hundred and fifty guests and stakeholders from Botswana and across the world. This is the second such gathering following the inaugural symposium which was also held in this tourism town at Botswana Wildlife Training Institute (BWTI) the previous year. According to the organisers, the symposium will be an annual event, and is aimed at giving stakeholders and researchers time to reflect on the state of information as well as to identify gaps and debate on possible solutions.
Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama is expected to officially open the event, while co-organiser and Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana Professor Thabo Fako, UNDP resident representative, senior government officials are also expected to address the gathering. Researchers will also give presentations on various topics.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Michael Flyman of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) said this year, they have partnered with the University of Botswana through the Okavango Research Institute (ORI), the World Bank, Okavango Wildness and many other stakeholders and environmentalists.
Because of lack of spacious facilities in Maun to host large events, he said they have decided to limit the number of attendants even though quite a number of people had shown interest to be part of the symposium.
Also present at the briefing was Professor Joseph Mbaiwa representing ORI. He said the symposium came at the most relevant time considering that there has of late been so many threats to natural resources in Ngamiland which is why there is urgent need for them to compile comprehensive data that will inform decision making processes. He gave as examples, issues of mining, agriculture, water and so forth, which are very common in Ngamiland, which have compelled them to further look at how these issues interact with each other. He also stated that it is conferences like these where stakeholders should strive to bring a better output, adding this can only be achieved if they work in joint collaboration with local institutions.
“Botswana is part and parcel of sustainable development, and so we want to come up with recommendations that will benefit us all as a country because all of the objectives talk about the dynamics that happen to our flora and fauna”, said Mbaiwa.
Because of logistical reasons, the symposium will be moved from BWTI to a more accommodating place even though the department is working on creating capacity at the institute to enable them to host all future conferences. “We also want to enhance the profile of the institute and allow trainees enrolled there during that period, an opportunity to be privy to current conservation research as well as to interact with the nation’s top researchers and conservationists, thus nurturing the spirit of enquiry and passion for conservation”, he said.
Participants will also travel to Tsodilo hills, Moremi Game Reserve to see how people benefit from natural resources around them.