Environmental governance, the process of making and implementing decisions that affect the environment and the people who depend on it. It involves a variety of actors, such as governments, civil society, indigenous peoples, businesses, and academia, who have different interests, values, and perspectives on environmental issues. In a world where environmental challenges transcend borders, the importance of international collaboration in environmental governance cannot be overstated. The interconnectedness of ecosystems, coupled with the global impact of climate change, pollution, and overexploitation of natural resources necessitates unified efforts and cooperation among nations. Through international conservation conferences and summits, remarkable strides have been made towards safeguarding our planet’s natural heritage and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come. 

There are several key players from diverse sectors with each playing significant roles in environmental governance. Governments hold primary authority in policy making and representation in global negotiations. Civil society, including NGOs, indigenous groups, and grassroots organizations, advocate for environmental and social justice, amplifying community voices in conservation efforts. Businesses wield influence through their operations and can drive environmental innovation and solutions. Academia contributes scientific knowledge and expertise, informing evidence-based approaches to environmental challenges. Media plays a crucial role in raising awareness and shaping public discourse on environmental issues, influencing policymaking and public opinion. These key players can collaborate in various ways, such as through partnerships, networks, coalitions, alliances, platforms, and forums, to enhance their capacities, synergies, and impacts on environmental governance.

International collaboration plays a crucial role in addressing global environmental challenges comprehensively. By facilitating the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and best practices, it enables countries to learn from each other and implement effective environmental management and conservation strategies. Additionally, collaborative efforts aid in the development and implementation of policies, laws, and standards that protect the environment and human rights at global, regional, and national levels. Moreover, international collaboration mobilizes financial and technical resources for environmental action and innovation, ensuring sustainability initiatives are adequately supported. It also facilitates the monitoring and evaluation of environmental initiatives, promoting accountability and effectiveness in addressing environmental issues. Furthermore, collaboration fosters diplomatic solutions to conflicts over environmental matters and enhances public awareness and participation in environmental decision-making.

One of the most notable gatherings in this regard is the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This annual event brings together representatives from nearly every country to discuss and negotiate global climate action. Through COP meetings, landmark agreements such as the Paris Agreement have been forged, setting ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and spurring global efforts to combat climate change. The next COP (29) is set to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 11 to 22 November 2024.

Other notable summits include gatherings such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which serves as the leading global environmental authority, coordinating environmental activities among UN entities and partners. Additionally, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims to conserve biodiversity and ensure equitable sharing of its benefits. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) focuses on stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations to prevent climate interference. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) addresses desertification, land degradation, and drought. Furthermore, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates trade in endangered species. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands conserves and utilizes wetlands sustainably, while the World Heritage Convention safeguards natural and cultural heritage sites. Lastly, the IUCN World Conservation Congress convenes leaders and decision-makers to address pressing conservation and sustainability challenges globally.

These collaborations have had several impactful projects such as The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI), which is an African-led initiative that aims to restore degraded lands and enhance livelihoods in the drylands of Africa by creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes.Some of the collaborators are the African Union, the European Union, the World Bank, the United Nations, the project covers 11 countries including Nigeria and Sudan.

Another notable initiative is the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), a collaboration between the Kenyan government, the World Bank, and other partners. KCSAP aims to increase agricultural productivity and build resilience to climate change among smallholder farmers in Kenya. Through climate-smart agricultural practices and improved access to resources and technologies, the project seeks to enhance food security and livelihoods while mitigating climate risks. The Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP), supported by the World Bank and other stakeholders, focuses on restoring the ecological health of Lake Victoria and its surrounding basin. This project involves various interventions, such as pollution control, habitat restoration, and community-based natural resource management, to address environmental degradation and promote sustainable development in the region.

It’s evident that international collaboration in environmental governance is not just beneficial, but essential for addressing the pressing challenges our planet faces, especially in Africa. These collaborative forums, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), provide invaluable platforms for nations to come together, share knowledge, and craft solutions to complex environmental issues. However, their effectiveness relies heavily on active participation from diverse stakeholders, including governments, civil society, businesses, academia, and media. By engaging in these forums, individuals and organizations can contribute their perspectives, expertise, and resources to shape policies and initiatives that promote sustainability and protect our planet’s precious natural resources.