• Accompanying African voices

    The solutions that we seek already lie within our indigenous cultures. ABN is a network committed to unearthing and implementing African solutions to African problems and building solidarity on biodiversity and community rights issues on the continent.

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  • Africa at a crossroads

    We recognise that Africa is at a crossroads, trying to reconcile the conservation and recuperation of its vast cultural and natural heritage and meet the many needs of a growing population.

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  • ABN in a global context

    This century has seen a rapid spread of global values that have focused on economic growth, consumption and individualism. These values are often at odds with the common good and values rooted in traditional cultures that encourage people to live in harmony with their ecosystems.

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  • Our focus

    Through our partners, we work with communities from the grassroots where our impact would be most felt. We accomplish this through our four thematic areas, Community Seed Knowledge, Community Ecological Governance, Advocacy and Networking, and Youth Culture and Biodiversity.

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  • Looking ahead

    We look to the future so that we can continue to find innovative and pioneering pathways and solutions to the challenges which face the continent for the generations of tomorrow.

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The African Biodiversity Network (ABN) is an African network of individuals and organizations seeking African solutions to the ecological and socio-economic challenges that face the continent. The idea of forming the ABN was thought of in 1996 in response to growing concern in the continent over threats to biodiversity; the need to develop strong African positions and legal instruments at the national, regional, and international levels. Currently, ABN has 41 partners drawn from 19 African countries: Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Morocco and Egypt.

ABN’s journey’s to nurture an African network of individuals, communities, and organizations, increasingly rooted in their own biological, cultural and spiritual diversity. With the capability to govern their own lives and livelihoods, with the ability to resist harmful developments; influence laws and practices that respect the rights of people and Nature. We focus on indigenous knowledge, ecological agriculture, and biodiversity-related rights, influencing policy and legislation. We pioneer culturally-centered approaches to solutions of social and ecological problems in Africa through sharing experiences, co-developing methodologies, and creating a united African voice on such issues on the continent.

Africa is at a crossroads, trying to reconcile the conservation and recovery of its vast cultural and natural heritage and meet the many needs of a growing population. Powerful external forces continue to divert us from solutions within Africa as they push for the privatization and industrialization of land, knowledge, and biodiversity in the name of poverty alleviation. Together, the African Biodiversity Network is finding innovative and pioneering pathways and solutions to the continent’s challenges.

Our philosophy

The ABN philosophy is ascribed to the various international agreements on the conservation of biodiversity, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), World Heritage Convention (WHC), International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) among others.

Our Mission

To nurture an African network of individuals, communities, and organizations, increasingly rooted in their own biological, cultural and spiritual diversity; governing their own lives and livelihoods; with the ability to resist harmful developments and influence laws and practices that respect the rights of people and Nature.

Our vision

Resilient African communities living in harmony with Nature

Our core values

  • Commitment

    Our members are committed to live by ABN values and to be pioneers for the change they want to see.

  • Honesty and openness

    Honesty and openness with ourselves, each other and everyone we interact with.

  • Solidarity

    ABN will stand in solidarity with those working for justice for humanity and nature, marginalized small-scale farmers, rural communities, indigenous peoples, and the ecosystems of the Earth.

  • Transparency and accountability

    To ensure transparency and accountability as underlying principles of the network for equal and full participation of all members.

  • Diversity

    To recognise as paramount the value of Africa’s diversity of cultures and of living organisms (from genetic level to ecosystem diversity).

ABN in a global context

The 21st century has seen a rapid spread of global values that have focused on economic growth, consumption and individualism. These values are often at odds with the common good and values rooted in traditional cultures that encourage people to live in harmony with their ecosystems.

The market based economic development model – promoted across the world including in Africa – has driven this shift in values; an economic model of development that concentrates power in the hands of few and drives land privatisation and grabbing, commoditisation of all aspects of life, and industrialised agricultural production systems that are heavily dependent on chemicals. These changes are disconnecting people from their key livelihood sources, their environment, culture, values and community cohesion. People’s ability and right to meet their needs individually or collectively outside of a globalised market economy is being eroded.

As the impact of these globalising market forces spread, the livelihoods and ecosystems of communities in Africa are increasingly threatened. Their ability to be self-sufficient and to grow their own food is taken away as seed, knowledge, land, water, and biodiversity are privatised and local control is lost. Biodiversity is being destroyed as traditional values, norms and practices for its protection and management are undermined by governments across Africa, which give precedence to laws that fail to protect customary laws, traditional knowledge and community rights. Formal education systems also provide little space for learning about customary ecological practices, norms and values relevant to rural livelihoods, and instead, focus mostly on building the skills of individuals to become employees within a consumer society.

The extent to which monetary driven economies have increased or decreased poverty, hunger, inequality, resource degradation, and informal social safety nets within communities is widely contested. Many development thinkers and practitioners, while acknowledging that economic development has benefited some, recognise that it has also impoverished millions who are left increasingly unprotected and insecure within their own society, a marginalisation within the economic system which is exacerbated by environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. However, there are opportunities in the external environment that ABN can build on.

First, there is increasing recognition of the rights of local and indigenous peoples, their ecological governance systems, and the importance of developing and testing their own solutions to challenges such as Climate Change and food insecurity. Secondly, the rising number of extreme weather events has increased the debate among people everywhere about the effects of human activity on the environment, and how changes in the environment are affecting the climate. As environmental awareness increases, spaces to speak about biodiversity and traditional systems for its protection have widened. Funding opportunities to identify, support, and communicate alternative solutions that promote human and ecological wellbeing have increased. In addition, the recent global financial crisis has caused widespread questioning of the sustainability and fairness of free market global capitalism resulting in greater consideration of alternatives.

Our organisation structure

Our organisation structure explained

  • Biennial Partners Meeting

    The general assembly meets once every two years.

  • Board of trustees

    This is the highest decision making body. The members of the board guide and support ABN coordination and maintain an overview of all ABN activities of the network in order to encourage coherence and strategic clarity. They meet 4 times each year, with 2 of these being physical meetings piggybacked to other activities.

  • The coordinating group (core group)

    The ABN coordinating group comprises members of the Board of Trustees and the Secretariat. They hold quarterly skype calls with a quorum of at least 5 members.

  • Executive Committee

    This is comprised of the Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary. They make quick decisions on implementation of the ABN workplan and feedback to the Board of Trustees.

  • Link persons for Thematic Coordinators (TCs)

    These are members of the board identified for their experience and technical expertise in certain thematic areas so that they can provide guidance and technical advice to TCs, and help solve problems arising during the work. They feed back to the Board of Trustees.

  • Secretariat

    The Secretariat has the staffs of ABN who serve the network. They facilitate network functioning through fundraising, financial administration and reporting.  It is also responsible for communication and co-ordination of all ABN activities.