Our vision is resilient local communities in southern Africa whose rights to manage natural resources on their land are respected nationally and internationally.
Our mission is to strengthen national community-based natural resource management programmes such that southern African local communities influence policies and decisions that affect their livelihoods at all levels of governance.
To amplify the voices of local communities through participation and influencing policy negotiation, development and implementation processes to ensure informed decision-making at national, regional and international levels that reflect the needs and rights of local communities to manage and benefit from their natural resources.
Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa (CLN) was born after the inaugural African Wildlife Summit which was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in 2019. At this summit, community leaders noted the need to have one voice when dealing with community rights on natural resources in Southern Africa.
Today, CLN is a voluntary association constituted under the Namibian common laws. It was formally instituted on the 22nd of October 2021 in Windhoek Namibia.
CLN’s ultimate objective is to amplify the voices of local communities through participation and influencing policy negotiation, development, and implementation processes to ensure informed decision-making at national, regional, and international levels that reflects the needs and rights of local communities to manage and benefit from their natural resources
Throughout Africa, more than 70% of rural people rely on natural resources for their livelihoods. Our, knowledge, skills and experience of sustainably managing our wild resources, in existence before colonialism and post independence, have come to be known as Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM).
CBNRM is now recognised as a highly effective intervention in increasing wildlife populations and enhanced rural livelihoods, improved governance and strengthening of participatory democratic practices.
Despite this, we have limited rights over these resources, increasing our vulnerability to poverty, depletion of the natural resource base, including soils, water, forests, grasslands and wildlife, on which we depend. At the same time, the growing impacts of the climate crisis are hitting our communities hardest while the rush for large infrastructure projects and other developments is disenfranchising our communities.
As rural people, we are rarely involved in policy making at international, regional and national levels that affect our rights and ultimately our livelihoods. The loudest voices against our rights are those of distant and powerful groups, far removed from our lived realities and with power and resources to influence policies that ultimately do not reflect our concerns and needs.
Without ownership of wildlife and the natural environment we have little incentive to manage natural resources sustainably. The world must realise that we play an important role in managing ecosystems and thus, our primary objective is to ensure we are heard.
HOW WE WORK:
- Inter-generational equity, engagement and commitment
- Compassion for people and nature
- Sustainable utilisation and development
- Open dialogue and cooperation
- Transparency and accountability to the people we represent and to each other
- Unity of purpose
Our key activities
- Knowledge sharing, lesson-learning, collaboration and cooperation among members through dialogue and exchange
- Capacity building of community representatives to engage with policy making processes at national, regional and international levels
- Information and knowledge generation and dissemination on CBNRM and community rights for awareness raising among varied external audiences
- Consistent engagement with traditional and non-traditional partners and platforms for dialogue, amplification of our views and generating buy-in; and
- Profile raising through media engagement, amplification of our voices and visibility in national, regional and international platforms, emphasising CBNRM successes and potential as dependent on community rights to sustainable use
How we work
Our work is grounded in our experience of natural resource management based on our lived realities, traditions and recognised rights as enshrined in local, regional and international, laws, policies and protocols emphasising:
- the need to recognize and reinforce human rights, including land and resource rights
- economic and social incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife as well as safeguarding of intellectual property rights and benefit sharing
- that successful natural resource management outcomes depend on people, power and economics
- that conserving nature should be redefined as an inclusive and equitable pillar for the growth of regional, national and local economies.
Our expected outcomes
- Poverty reduction and prosperity through community based natural resources management
- Shared benefits
- Open dialogue