Jewellery group De Beers is teaming up with National Geographic to launch Okavango Eternal, a strategic conservation partnership to protect the source waters of the Okavango Delta in Africa and the lives and livelihoods they support.
The five-year commitment will help protect Africa’s endangered species, ensure water and food security for more than one million people and develop livelihood opportunities for 10,000 people, explains De Beers. It also represents “critical inward investment to underpin the resilience and long-term recovery of the region in the years ahead”.
The Okavango Basin, spanning southern Angola, eastern Namibia, and northern Botswana, is the main source of water for the Okavango Delta. Located in northern Botswana, the Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s most important ecosystems and is home to the world’s largest remaining elephant population as well as lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hundreds of species of birds.
De Beers and National Geographic will work together by providing support, expertise and funding to expand and accelerate work already underway, to help establish sustainable local livelihoods in harmony with the Okavango Basin’s conservation.
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This will include protecting the natural world through long-term wildlife corridor protection for the movement and proliferation of endangered species, as well as supporting critical conservation research through funding expeditions to gather new data, installing monitoring technology and building capacity of local researchers through grants and training.
“There is no doubt that the Okavango River Basin is under threat. How we treat this delicate ecosystem in the coming years will dictate its vitality — for its people and its wildlife — for future generations. This is our last chance to help protect this natural wonder and we are pleased to partner with De Beers on this critically important project,” said Dr. Steve Boyes, National Geographic Explorer and leader of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project in a statement. “Together, we will leverage our collective resources to scale efforts to facilitate long-term, sustainable management of protected areas in the region by helping establish and further partnerships between governments, NGOs, and local communities through a sustainable conservation economy.”
Bruce Cleaver, chief executive, De Beers Group, added: “De Beers has been in 50/50 partnership with both Botswana and Namibia for decades, making their people significant shareholders in De Beers and our commitment to the long-term sustainable development of the countries a core part of our business As part of our Building Forever mission to ensure every De Beers diamond creates a positive and lasting impact in the place where it is discovered, we manage half a million acres of land for conservation across southern Africa, protecting wildlife, supporting livelihoods and creating education and eco-tourism opportunities for the surrounding areas.
“However, many areas in southern Africa are still at risk, including the critically important Okavango Basin. That’s why our partnership with National Geographic is vital. By sharing our expertise and resources and working with local communities, governments and other NGO partners, we will deliver a positive impact that is far greater than what any of us could achieve on our own, and ultimately protects the natural world and improves people’s lives.”