The countries of eastern and southern Africa host a vast variety and abundance of the world’s biological and natural resources, including seven of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Across the 24 countries - From the Horn of Africa to the Cape and including the Western Indian Ocean Islands, the region contains several centres of endemism where species of birds, mammals and plans reside nowhere else in the world. The region is also incredibly socially diverse, with a rich mix of cultures, ethnicities, religions and languages and a colourful blend of traditional customs and beliefs with contemporary societal practices
Today, there is much optimism across eastern and southern Africa. Many of the countries have registered or are anticipating growth, contributed to by increased investments in infrastructure and extractive industries as well as improvements in political and social stability. However, it is also widely acknowledge that critical challenges remain, amongst them inequality and vulnerability to economic, social and environmental risks.
IUCN ESARO’s programme of work is guided by core beliefs and principles. We believe that biodiversity and natural resources are central to development and well-being –for current and future generations. At the heart of this lies governance –which can either ensure that natural resources contribute to the enjoyment of rights and opportunities for development or act as a driver of a number of challenges, including natural resource conflicts. We also recognise that the complexity of the challenges today are unlikely to be resolved by any one entity and we therefore strive to work in a manner that maximizes IUCN’s unique strength in being able to work in partnership across the different parts of the Union – Government and NGO Members, Commissions of experts and the Secretariat – in order to continue to build and strengthen a collaborative movement for conservation across the region and beyond.
IUCN ESARO implements its Programme through the Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya and 5 country offices with a dedicated team of technical experts and a strong Cooperate Services Department. Our work is structured across three thematic regional programmes which are geared at supporting and working alongside Governments, Civil Society and the Private Sector in addressing critical challenges and sustainably harnessing the values of natural resource at multiple levels. Our three regional thematic programmes include: Conservation Areas & Species Diversity; People & Landscapes; and Business and Biodiversity. Within each of the thematic programmes, we have a range of initiatives working at landscape level across a diversity of biomes, including forests, marine and coastal, rangelands, and freshwater.