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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No. 7 of 2012

Holistic Sustainable Development

Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into events and issues involving the Presidency. This has been an especially eventful week highlighted by both the Official Visit to our country of the President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the convening in Gaborone of the Inaugural Summit for Sustainability in Africa.

The Summit, which was officially opened yesterday by His Excellency the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, has been conceived as a landmark effort to establish a new development roadmap for the sustainable development of our continent. Ten African governments are represented at the gathering, along with representatives of leading transnational businesses, international organizations and civil society groups.

Featured summit participants include political leaders from Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Norway, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania, as well as Botswana, along with senior executives from the World Bank, U.N. Environment Programme, U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, World Vision, MacArthur Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca-Cola Company, Walmart, and Woolworths, among others.

On the eve of the Summit, President Khama affirmed the need “for collective commitment to a roadmap ensuring the sustainability of Africa’s rich national capital”, while expressing his conviction that “with the expected high level participation of African leaders, representatives of big business, public financing institutions, and conservationists, I have no doubt that this historic Summit will chart a clear path for the African sustainability agenda.”

In his remarks at yesterday’s official opening, the President further observed that worldwide evidence shows that natural resource stocks are being depleted at ever increasing rates, resulting in increasing loss of biological diversity, land degradation, destruction of coastal margins, desertification, water stress, food insecurity, health pandemics and natural disasters. He went on to note that:

“In hosting this Summit on Sustainability in Africa, our aspirations are to discuss common African perspectives on sustainable development and to find consensus about how some of us in Africa and its peoples represented here may use their natural resource wealth and transform their resources into drivers of inclusive economic growth and people-centred development.”

The Summit is expected to conclude today with the adoption of a “Gaborone Declaration”, which will become part of the global agenda for sustainable development. More information and live webcast links can be found on the Summit’s websites: www.asummitforsustainabilityinafrica.org and www.conservation.org/ssa, as well as at www.gov.bw.

This week’s other highlight was the arrival in our country on Sunday H.E. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who was greeted at the airport by President Khama and other members of Cabinet. While this was the Liberian President’s first Official Visit to our country, before she became her country’s head of state she had previously visited our country at the invitation of the gender empowerment NGO Emang Basadi.

On Monday morning Presidents Khama and Sirleaf Johnson met at the Office of the President for official talks that focused on cooperation in such areas as agricultural and mineral sector development and human resource training.

Following the talks President Khama hosted President Sirleaf Johnson at a State Luncheon, during which he paid tribute to Liberia’s ongoing social-economic progress following years of conflict. Expressing his gratitude at the reception he received during his own visit to Liberia last year, Khama further observed that Sirleaf Johnson’s reciprocal visit to Botswana attested to the fraternal and friendly relations that exist between the two countries; adding:

“Our strong bonds of friendship are premised on shared values and principles of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and a common vision to secure a better future for humanity.

President Khama also noted that Botswana welcomes the recent conviction of former President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Liberia for the war crimes and crimes against humanity, further expressing the hope the conviction will send a strong message to those leaders who continue to violate human rights with impunity that such practices can no longer be tolerated or go unpunished. 

Speaking on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, President Khama urged the two countries to exercise restraint to avert a full scale war, calling on them to resolve their differences through peaceful means in the context of the African Union Roadmap.

For her part President Johnson Sirleaf, in her response to President Khama’s welcome remarks, lauded Botswana as a "model for all Africa and I daresay beyond".

She further observed that our country has become an inspiration and international benchmark based on the country's outstanding record of maintaining peace and democracy while achieving sound economic growth and development.

The Liberian President also praised Botswana for its leadership role in promoting democratic values internationally.

She noted that she has for many years enjoyed the friendship and support of former Presidents Festus Mogae and Sir Ketumile Masire, and was happy to now be working together with President Khama.

Observing that her country was rebuilding after years of devastating conflict, she welcomed Botswana's willingness to assist by sharing its insights and expertise.   


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