"The EPI is a shining example of what can be achieved by like-minded countries and people, all working together to achieve a common goal.”

Minister Paula Coelho of Angola

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African member countries of the EPI met at a special event in Geneva on August 22nd, on the sidelines of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 18th Conference of the Parties. Angola’s Minister of Environment Paula Coelho chaired the meeting, which reasserted the EPI’s commitments and priorities; to end the ivory trade, and to deliver National Elephant Action Plans (NEAPs). These are designed to protect elephant populations whilst also addressing the challenges of Human Elephant Conflict and delivering sustainable livelihoods to rural populations.

Minister Coelho spoke about the significant progress made by the EPI since it was formed in 2014, growing from 5 members to 20. She said that "whilst we must never become complacent, by standing together we have built the foundations of a better future for elephants and our biodiversity". She added, "It is we who are now the custodians of the world’s remaining African elephants. We need no one to tell us what is required. We know what we want."

Miles Geldard, CEO of the EPI Foundation, spoke of the need to secure large scale financing for NEAPs, and building wildlife-based economies to help member states achieve their Sustainable Development Goals. The objective, he says, is to secure not just a future for African elephants but also better livelihoods for the growing human populations that live alongside them.

The UK Government, represented by Cheryl Case of the Department of Environment, stressed its support for the EPI, and highlighted the Foundation’s work to promote innovative finance mechanisms, blending development funding with private capital in support of conservation.

The EPI meeting was one of the key side events of the CoP18 Conference, following the hotly debated but ultimately unsuccessful proposals from some Southern African countries to re-open the ivory trade.