FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa arrives for the inauguration of Ramaphosa as South African president, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria

JOHANNESBURG  -  Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday opened a summit bringing together heads of state, government ministers, community representatives, private investors and scientists to work towards changing how the continent manages its nature-based economy.

Mnangagwa said the first ever "wildlife economy" summit with the theme "communities for conservation: harnessing conservation, tourism and supporting governments” resonated with Zimbabwe's renewed efforts to ensure its citizens benefited from the sustainable management of natural resources and wildlife.

"Wildlife resources have a tremendous potential to be instrumental in sustainable social economic development," he told the summit, running to Tuesday.

A working paper presented by international conservation organization Space for Giants said bringing new, private sector investment to under-funded protected areas to capitalise on rising interest in nature-based tourism in Africa would help fund conservation without draining state finances, while driving sustainable local and national development.

The summit, convened by the United Nations Environment Programme and the African Union, will launch the African Wildlife Economy Initiative linking the private sector with national authorities and communities to design and finance conservation-compatible investments that deliver sustainable economic and ecological benefits to people and the environment.

- African News Agency (ANA)