Statement of Conservation International on Alleged Relocations of San People in Botswana

5/28/2013

​Arlington, Va. -  Contrary to recent reports, Conservation International (CI) has not been involved in the implementation of conservation corridors in Botswana since 2011. When it was, although the Ranyane community resides within a broader study area in which CI previously focused sustainable development efforts from 2007-2011, CI had no direct engagements with the community. Prior to 2011 and during its four-year initiative, CI was explicitly supportive of the San people and their rights in the region, designing projects to facilitate this goal and encouraging livelihood development. Statements otherwise about CI's ongoing implementation of any conservation corridors in Botswana, such as the Western Kgalagadi Conservation Corridor (WKCC), are erroneous and outdated. 

 
Prior to 2011 and beginning in 2007, with co-funding from the French Government through Fonds Francais pour l'Environnement Mondial (FFEM), and with strong support from the Government of Botswana, Conservation International supported  the planning and design of Western Kgalagadi Conservation Corridor (WKCC) in the southwestern region of Botswana, between the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) and Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The focal area of the project covered almost the entire southwest quadrant of Botswana, or nearly one-quarter of its land area - among the most arid and socio-economically depressed region in the country, but also home to an incredible richness of wildlife and human culture, with the largest remaining numbers of San Bushmen in the world.

 
The explicit intent of CI's effort in the WKCC was to improve both the ecological sustainability of key areas that form ecological corridors linking the KTP with the CKGR, and to improve quality of life and livelihoods for the local people living within the project region. A strict adherence to principles of consultation and community engagement guided CI in its efforts to sustain the natural wealth of this region while ensuring the flow of benefits and decision making authority to its local people.

 
CI has never advocated nor endorsed the voluntary or involuntary removal of any tribal peoples from their lands or territories, including those communities living in the Western Kgalagadi Conservation Corridor. In fact, quite the contrary: the design of the WKCC took into account objectives that would recognize the historical interdependence and linkages between nature and the livelihoods of the region's San Bushmen inhabitants, factoring in community inhabited areas and the vital need to provide alternative livelihood strategies to support their social and economic development through, among other means, ecotourism, traditional handicrafts, and strengthened capacity to effectively govern Community Trusts.

 
This very week, Conservation International is in New York for the 12th Annual U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues with members of its Indigenous Advisory Group, actively promoting guidelines and case studies on the benefits of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for traditional and indigenous peoples. [The principle of FPIC refers to the right of indigenous peoples to provide or withhold their consent for any action that would affect their lands, territories or rights, as recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples] These principles have long guided CI's rights-based approach to conservation, and represent a key tenet of our work to support, empower and recognize the rights and contributions of indigenous and traditional peoples as a key asset in the stewardship of nature. As with all indigenous and traditional peoples, CI strongly supports these peoples rights to access, inhabit and manage ancestral lands.

 
Conservation International does not speak for the Government of Botswana and cannot report on any potential activities on the ground in the Ranyane community or elsewhere at this time. However CI is actively monitoring these issues and will engage key parties if and when it can contribute to meaningful solutions that support the well being of Botswana's people and critical natural capital.

 
For more information, please contact:

 
Kim McCabe, Vice President of News and Public Relations kmccabe@conservation.org 

 
Kristen Walker, Vice President for Social Policy and Practice kwalker@conservation.org 

 
Note to editors:

 
Conservation International - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and its global biodiversity to promote the long-term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. CI employs more than 800 staff in nearly 20+ countries on four continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org or visit us on Facebook  and Twitter.

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