“Stop talking. Please stop talking. It is now time for action.”
President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon
President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon opened the EPI’s inaugural Consultative Group with an appeal for international support for African countries as they attempt to implement their National Elephant Action Plans (NEAPs). "If the international community is unable or unwilling to identify the finances required to implement these plans... then NEAPs are just pieces of paper”, warned the President.
The EPI’s Consultative Group meeting was one of the highlights of the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference, held in London on October 11th and 12th, 2018. Chaired by President Ali Bongo, it was also attended by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, the first ladies of Kenya and Sierra Leone, the UK government, and ministerial delegations from most of the 19 EPI member countries. President Masisi said the EPI ‘represented hope’ for African countries looking to conserve their elephants. In a special address Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, said that he believed the EPI ‘offers the best African owned approach to protecting African elephants”.
The EPI Secretariat presented completed NEAPs from Chad, Gabon, Ethiopia, Angola, Malawi, Uganda and Kenya. These carefully costed long-term elephant conservation plans from seven EPI member states require some 268 million dollars over the next three years. But Peter Middlebrook of the EPI’s Knowledge Partner Geopolicity said funding NEAPs in all the EPI member states up to the year 2030 would require about 1 billion dollars.
Major donor institutions attending the Consultative Group, including the World Bank and the GEF (Global Environmental Facility) stressed their support for the EPI’s objectives. The EPI’s quest to raise the finance needed to implement NEAPs across the African continent has been boosted by the signing of a formal partnership with the UNDP.
President Ali Bongo also announced the creation of a formal legal entity, to facilitate the raising of funds. This will be chaired by the former President of Botswana, Dr Ian Khama, who said he was looking forward to lending his support to all EPI member countries.
“We are fighting the battle on behalf of all mankind’, said President Bongo. 'Is the rest of the world prepared to help?”