Transboundary cooperation for the protection of biological diversity

In late October, the environment ministers of Togo and Benin inaugurated the 'Transboundary biosphere reserve in the Mono delta' project during a ceremony attended by distinguished guests from the two participating African states and the Federal Government of Germany. The project is being supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Environment Ministry (BMUB) and aims to protect biological diversity, with local implementation being carried out by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The Mono river delta on the southern border between Benin and Togo is home to many different species, some of which are under serious threat. Among the animals that live here are marsh antelopes, hippopotamuses, manatees, buffalo and red-bellied monkeys, an endemic primate species found nowhere else. However, the biological diversity in the Mono river delta is threatened by the growing human population and the mounting pressure on natural resources that this entails.

The objective of the GIZ project is to ensure sustainable use of the region's natural resources and thereby to conserve its biological diversity. The first step involves identifying particularly valuable areas in the Mono river delta through close coordination with the local population. The next step entails developing options and methods for how these areas can best be protected. To secure long term conservation, local stakeholders are being trained on how to conserve resources. Management structures will also be set up to guarantee sustainable usage of these resources.

To ensure that local activities are placed on a secure legal basis, the project team is advising stakeholders at regional and national level on how they can drive economic development by preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how they can integrate such activities into their development plans.

The implementation of this project will provide strong support for transboundary cooperation between Togo and Benin. Joint projects between multiple states in West Africa have been rare - the transboundary nature of this activity therefore sets an example. With this project, the German Government has confirmed its role as the most important donor for environmental and climate protection in Togo and Benin, and is supplementing previously implemented development strategies aimed at forest conservation and adaptation to global climate change.