Civil Society Leaders and Celebrities from Africa, China Press for Wildlife Issues to be Included at Upcoming China–Africa Presidential Summit

November 16, 2015

Kathleen Garrigan,
African Wildlife Foundation (U.S.) | +1 202 939 3326  

Beatrice Karanja
African Wildlife Foundation (Africa) | +254 735 632 811

Nicole Buckley
The Aspen Institute | +1.212.895.8005

Civil Society Leaders and Celebrities from Africa, China Press for Wildlife Issues to be Included at
Upcoming China–Africa Presidential Summit
Sino–African group to hold high-level discussions and visit poaching hotspots on sidelines of
6th Forum on China–Africa Cooperation in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, ZA, November 16, 2015—As African heads of state prepare to join Chinese President Xi Jinping in South Africa for the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation, a group of respected Chinese and African business and policy leaders is appealing for wildlife and environmental issues to be included on the diplomatic agenda of the upcoming summit. Chinese film star Wang Baoqiang and Tanzanian singer-songwriter Alikiba will also join the meeting.

“Both African governments and the Chinese government want better lives for their people and believe strong trade, not aid, is the way to achieve this,” said Philip Idro, former Ugandan Ambassador to China. “At the same time, we must remember that economic growth relies on healthy, resilient ecosystems and wildlife. For many African countries, wildlife and wildlands conservation can help to alleviate poverty and provide economic benefits. The Chinese have made great strides in panda conservation and in protecting their forests. I am sure we can come together to find acceptable ways of solving this dilemma in Africa.”

The group is participating in a China–Africa Dialogue Series facilitated by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the Aspen Institute. The effort aims to move leaders in government, civil society and private industry toward actively promoting investments and operations in Africa that are sustainable and include protection of Africa’s wildlife and wild lands. 

The Dialogue Series first brought together African thought leaders in Nairobi and Kigali in 2014 to address Africa’s natural resource crisis in the wake of rapid economic development. A parallel group of Chinese private and public sector leaders was convened in Beijing and Tianjin in 2014, followed by an official dialogue in Beijing in 2015, to help establish a set of recommendations for African–Chinese cooperation around challenges of wildlife and wild lands protection.

Key outcomes of the Dialogue Series have included:

  • A formal recommendation—supported by former Presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania—promoting the protection of Africa’s wildlife and wild lands as a priority in the continent’s development agenda was integrated into the African Union’s final Vision 2063 document.
  • A formal proposal to include topics of wildlife and wild lands protection within the 6th Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was submitted to the African Ambassadors Group in Beijing, along with supporting technical information to serve as a resource for submitting these issues into the formal FOCAC process.
  • A proposal to include wildlife on the diplomatic agenda of FOCAC was also submitted directly to South Africa’s Departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. In response, the Department of Environmental Affairs requested the China-Africa Dialogue Series submit formal commitments for inclusion in the agenda.

“The Dialogue participants have worked hard to ensure Africa’s wildlife and wild lands are not left behind as the continent acts on its development agenda,” said African Wildlife Foundation CEO, Dr. Patrick Bergin. “Because the role that China plays in that agenda is significant and by all accounts game-changing, it has a responsibility as well as an opportunity to help ensure Africa’s elephants, rhinos and other wildlife have a future in the modern Africa rising up before us.”

The format of the Dialogue Series followed the Aspen method of moderating dialogue in a small group setting where participants from various backgrounds and perspectives learn from each other through an interactive discussion of specific readings.

As a closing stage of the China-Africa Dialogue Series, the Aspen Institute and AWF will host a final roundtable dialogue and safari from November 30 to December 3 at Kruger National Park, which has become a hotspot for rhino and elephant poaching. In addition to public and private sector leaders from China and Africa, participants will include African wildlife experts and VIP cultural envoys. A press conference will be organized on December 3 in Johannesburg to share the group’s experience and findings.

Editor’s Note: For more details about the upcoming safari and press conference in South Africa, please contact Kathleen Garrigan at +1 202 939 3326 or A media advisory with details of the press conference in Johannesburg will be distributed ahead of December 3.

For images of the China-Africa Dialogue Series and African wildlife, please visit: Photo credit information is provided in the file name of each folder.  

About China–Africa Dialogue Series
The China-Africa Dialogue Series is a collaboration between the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the Aspen Institute, serving as a platform for developing a vision for China-Africa cooperation on wildlife and wild lands conservation and governance. From 2014 – 2015, this high level, Track II Dialogue Series has convened groups of African and Chinese business and policy leaders to foster a set of recommendations regarding the opportunity for cooperation on conservation and development challenges. This initiative is made possible by sponsorship from the World Bank.

About African Wildlife Foundation
Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF’s programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises that benefit local African communities, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AWF_Official and Facebook at

About The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

Using a method approach developed over decades of convening, the Aspen Institute’s Track II dialogue method aims to: 1) Foster trust and understanding through sustained, direct exchanges involving influential actors on both sides; 2) Outline recommendations and plan of action for advancing cooperation on both sides of the issue; and 3) Identify top-line issues and areas that participants can actively support and champion.  Aspen’s approach to Track II dialogue is grounded in the historical efficacy of moving entrenched discussions or positions through unofficial dialogues, comprised of prominent and influential experts and former officials.


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