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23 September 2015

Three South African municipalities sign the Durban Commitment

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In the far north of South Africa, the beautiful Waterberg District – named after its mountains and watercourses – demonstrated its commitment at the municipal level to conserving its rich biological wealth for future generations.

Rounding off the ‘Wetlands for Prosperity’ workshop, the Executive Mayor of Waterberg District, the Honourable Councillor Rosina Mogotlane was joined by Honourable Councillors Sebatjane and Lekalakala, Mayors of Mogalakwena and Modimolle, in signing of the Durban Commitment – Local Governments for Biodiversity. In a rousing opening speech, the Executive Mayor highlighted the links between local economic development and the rich biodiversity of the region.

Over 40 councillors from across the region attended the workshop, focussing on how biodiversity, and wetlands in particular, support local economic development and service delivery. Presentations by resource economist Dr. Hugo van Zyl and Louise Stafford, Head of Green Jobs at the City of Cape Town provided examples of how and why municipalities can benefit from the range of ecosystem services that wetlands provide, providing solutions to the environmental pressures such as urban expansion and mining in the area, as outlined by Dr Chris Wagner, the architect of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve.

The Wetlands for Prosperity workshop, held in partnership between ICLEI Africa and Waterberg District Municipality and hosted by Mogalakwena Municipality, forms part of the Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB): Wetlands South Africa project that is being implemented across South Africa as a result of support from the US Agency for International Development. The workshop highlighted the need for enhanced cooperation and partnerships required in supporting biodiversity and wetland conservation and feeds in the Waterberg Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Forum on the 23 September, and the LAB: Wetlands SA project moving forward. The Wetlands for Prosperity workshop was closed with a tree planting ceremony, in commemoration of the commitments made that day.

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