Kwita Izina: Marrying conservation outcomes with economic gains

Every year, Rwanda hosts the Kwita Izina event (Gorilla Naming Ceremony), an international event that has been celebrated since year 2005. The event embodies an intriguing story of how a country can leverage its natural capital sustainably in a changing world. Kwita izina is a week-long event that consists of different meetings, discussions, exhibitions, and business fairs and which culminates in a massive celebration held at Musanze near the Volcanoes national park, home to the famous mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) This year Kwita Izina will be in the week of 3-7th September 2018 and, as usual, it will be a great opportunity for conservationists and tourism investors to sit together to discuss how the two sectors can increase their collaboration for greater benefit for both the biodiversity and environment and the national economy. This discussion known as the “Conversation on Conservation Forum” is now an established dialogue platform where case studies of how these two sectors can work together are showcased and challenges are pondered with the aim to agree on sustainable solutions to address them. It has now become an established fact that conservation is at its best when it contributes to the national economy and the livelihoods and well-being of local population. Rwanda is at the forefront of this endeavour and its tourism industry backed by sound nature conservation strategies has started to yield its due results. The tourism industry is for instance the top-most foreign exchange earner for this fast-developing country and its gorilla visiting destination has become a premium offering renown globally for its world-class quality service. The case of Rwanda and its gorilla tourism industry is a clear demonstration that investment in mountain areas can go a long way in terms of sustainable livelihoods of mountain communities. Thanks to a very generous benefit-sharing programme implemented by the Rwanda Development Board, the national body in charge of tourism management; communities neighbouring volcanoes national park can now enjoy the fruits of conservation and stories abound of former wildlife poachers now converted into active protectors of mountain biodiversity. All countries world-wide and in Africa particular can learn from this inspiring Rwandan story to achieve sustainable development that plays well with conservation of natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Please join us: http://www.rdb.rw/kwitizina/

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