Projecting Transboundary Conservation into the Future: the Impact of Law and Governance in Fulfilling Environment’s Role in Peace Building

Wednesday 21 February 2018, 16:15 - 17:45

Video recording of Clara's lecture.


Transboundary Conservation Initiatives are a fairly recent phenomenon, even more so if we consider that they have really caught international attention in the XXI century only. Historically, however, the concept of TBC has been entrenched in several environmental and development legal instruments at international and regional level, such as the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and the Convention establishing UNESCO, as well as its Heritage Site and MAB programmes. There is, however, no such thing as a Convention or Treaty dedicated to the establishment of Transfrontier Conservation Areas. It is of no surprise, therefore, that they have developed in various regions of the world mostly as independent processes seeking to address local needs or as government-driven regional peace-building processes.

TBC has now reached a sort of adult phase, considering that most initiatives have been established since 2000. At this time, however, conservation seems to have gone back towards the exclusionist fortress approach, primarily caused by the plague of wildlife crimes, in turn the result of the inability of conservation to deliver on the ecosystems goods and services, and livelihoods alternatives, promised to rural communities for decades through tourism and non-consumptive use of natural resources. Hence, while TBC initiatives are on the rise, in Europe and most of the developing world, driven both by an ecosystem approach to conservation and by the logic of peace building in historically conflicted areas, the militarisation of conservation is hindering such efforts.

The question debated in this seminar is how can TBC be still relevant in the future, if not by contributing actively to peace-building and sustainable future we want? Following a short introduction to the history of TFCAs and the evolution of peace as a process, the comparative analysis of the Southern African and European histories of TBC shall allow for the identification of those positive elements that will take TBC into the future instead of making almost as anachronistic as conventional in situ conservation is becoming.

Dr Clara Bocchino

Dr. Clara Bocchino is an independent consultant who has dedicated her professional life to the study for Transfrontier Conservation in Southern Africa as driver for sustainable socio-economic development. Her first research visit to Zimbabwe at the end of 2001 introduced her not only to the role of Community Based Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Use, but to a new phenomenon in the region: the establishment of Peace Parks in the form of Transfrontier Conservation Areas.

Since then, she has specialised in this field through a Masters in Environmental Management at the University of Nottingham (UK) and a PhD in Human Geography (Environmental Quality and Regional Economic Development) on the impact of TFCAs on existing socio-economic cross-border networks, using the Great Limpopo TFCA as a case study, at the University of Bologna (I). In the past decade, she has worked both as a researcher and as consultant in the Southern African Region to support the good governance and sustainability of regional TFCAs and has contributed to the study of TFCAs as complex socio-ecological systems in multi-disciplinary contexts including Disaster Risk Reduction, One Health, and law. She has done so firstly as a Post-Doctoral Fellow of the Faculty of Law, and as an associate of the African Centre for Disaster Studies, both at the North West University (Potchefstroom Campus). She has coordinated for 3 years the GTLFCA Chapter of the Animal and Human Health for Environment and Development Network, for the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria, and the SADC participation at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress. She has worked with a selected team of regional legal experts to create the first International Law Legal Register for Conservation and Development in SADC TFCAs, focussed on South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. More recently, she has created the first Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the SADC TFCA Programme, a unique multi-scalar M&E system, which has recently been approved by the Ministers of Environmental Affairs of the SADC region.

For several years now, she has been an active member of the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods, and the Transboundary Conservation Specialist Groups. Since its establishment in 2015, she has been a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy Theme on Governance Equity and Rights. From inception, she has been a member of the SADC TFCA Network, and is now serving as the Secretariat for its Capacity Building and Training Community of Practice. She is currently an extra-ordinary Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the North West University (Potchefstroom).