African nations’ natural and cultural stakeholders have signed – The Ngorongoro Declaration on Safeguarding African World Heritage as Driver of Sustainable Development 2016 - to preserve and promote African cultures and uplift identity and dignity for present and future generations in an increasingly globalised world.
The Ngorongoro Declaration which was signed last Saturday at the headquarters of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) in Ngorongoro Tanzania. It recognizes that heritage, including World Heritage Properties is a driver of sustainable development and critical for achieving regional, socio-economic benefits, environmental protection, sustainable urbanization and social cohesion and peace.
The African experts, including States, Civic Society and Private actors and International Partners shared experiences from different parts across Africa during the Conference on Safeguarding African World Heritage as a Driver of Sustainable Development held at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) in Arusha from May 31 to 3, June 2016.
The conference was organized by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China and other donors.
The signing ceremony was preceded by a tour in Ngorongoro Crater, in which delegates enjoyed stunning wildlife viewing that rivals the best on Earth. A tour in Ngorongoro Crater is one of the quintessential travel destinations to an African safari that hosts more than half of the tourists who visits Tanzania every year. Tanzania attracted nearly 1.1 million foreign visitors in 2015 with revenue pegged at USD 1.93 bn overtaking gold as Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Major General Gaudence Milanzi, Permanent Secretary in the Tanzanian ministry of natural resources and tourism, who chaired the conference, announced that over 150 delegates from 33 African countries signed the Ngorongoro Declaration.
The Ngorongoro Declaration called for the empowerment of communities and improvement of their participation in decision making and benefit sharing, and promoting them as ambassadors of World Heritage and Inclusive Sustainable Development Initiatives, among many others.
Other calls include the promotion of the role of women and youth by African states parties in the conservation and management of natural and cultural heritage. And the strengthening of the regulatory environment for addressing heritage concerns in the development process. This is aimed to be achieved by ensuring mechanisms for coordination and strong linkages with established impacts assessment processes, urban and rural landscapes policies and planning national development policies and investment plans.
The Ngorongoro Declaration also call for the International Community, the African Union, African States parties to cooperate and collaborate in global dialogue to realize the aspiration towards Sustainable Development Goals’ and challenges.
The challenges, according to the Ngorongoro Declaration, include: Environmental degradation, Climate Change, Terrorism, Illegal arms trade, Illicit trafficking of flora and fauna and intentional destruction, trafficking of cultural heritage and looting of cultural artefacts, properties, poverty and other issues which critically impact African natural and cultural heritage.
Ngorongoro is a UNESCO appointed “A Mixed World Heritage Site, "A World Heritage Site" and "One among the Eight Wonders of the World"; the Ngorongoro – also voted as one of the Seven African Natural Wonders. Ngorongoro, also known as Africa’s Garden of Eden.
Other UNESCO World Heritage Listed in Tanzania include: Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Selous Game Reserve, the Stone Town of Zanzibar, the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara as well as the Kolo Rock Arts of Kondoa.
The Conservator of the Ngorongoro, Dr. Freddy Manongi, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the signing of the Ngorongoro Declaration, said that he is optimistic and confident that the signing and eventual implementation of the joint Ngorongoro Declaration will have numerous benefits to Tanzania tourism.
“World Heritage Site status remains the driving factor in Tanzania’s tourism industry, in which it employs close to one million people directly and millions others indirectly. In all this, evidently UNESCO listed Sites are the best-selling points to sell the country’s destinations,” said Dr Manongi.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area was established in 1959 by the NCA Ordinance No 413 of 1959 as a multiple land use area, designated to promote the conservation of natural resources which include wildlife, safeguard the interests of the Maasai indigenous residents and promote tourism. Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a unique protected area in the whole of Africa where conservation of natural resources is integrated with human development.