We are thrilled to share with you the highlights from the Vision 2040 engagement event that took place in Paarl, Western Cape on 28 September 2023. This gathering was one of a number of engagements in our journey to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and culturally rich future for our national parks and the communities we serve.
The event in Paarl brought together various stakeholders from the wider Cape Region, including local communities, traditional leaders, subsistence farmers such as local fishers and flower harvesters, and small business owners. A group of almost sixty individuals participated in the session, providing invaluable insights and recommendations to shape our Vision 2040.
While the majority of participants engaged positively, it’s crucial to acknowledge that a grouping representing the First Nations expressed concerns about SANParks’ engagement approach. They highlighted that they had not granted SANParks a mandate to establish parks or discuss the future.
To address these concerns, we are planning a follow-up session dedicated to capturing their perspectives comprehensively.
However, the heart of our Vision 2040 engagement consisted of four breakaway groups that delved into a number of topics. These issues are by no means comprehensive and reflect the particular group and their inputs. The themes that emerged from the discussion are:
- Sustainable Resource Management and Conservation
Participants underscored the importance of community aquafarms, sustainable resource utilization, cutting-edge technology, and the preservation of indigenous knowledge. They emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach encompassing control mechanisms, knowledge preservation, scientific research, and streamlined permitting processes.
- Community Involvement and Empowerment
The discussion highlighted the need to prioritize local employment in concession policies, preserving cultural heritage through ancestral rituals, and empowering indigenous participation in tenders and traditional hunting. Indigenous villages within parks, educational programs, and the integration of indigenous knowledge into research were suggested.
- Cultural Heritage and Education
Key points included the establishment of medicinal gardens, vigilance against over-harvesting activities, facilities for cultural programs, educational tours, and the creation of Khoi & San heritage routes.
- Policy and Governance
Participants called for policy reforms, discontinuing Cadre deployment, streamlined permit systems, and the establishment of a social contract between parks and communities. They also emphasized the importance of transparent communication and commitment to socio-economic development.
- Youth Engagement and Inclusivity
The discussion highlighted the need for youth accessibility, indigenous group engagement, practical co-management approaches, investment in tourism infrastructure, and support for local ethnic public-private partnerships.
- Infrastructure and Accessibility
The importance of maintaining infrastructure, efficient transportation options, equestrian law enforcement, reducing bureaucratic red tape, supporting indigenous individuals in tenders, and restoring Aboriginal villages within parks was highlighted.
The engagement resulted in visionary statements that will guide our path to 2040. These statements reflect our commitment to sustainable resource management, community involvement, cultural preservation, effective governance, youth engagement, and infrastructure development.
In summary, the Vision2040 engagement in Paarl was an essential step in shaping the future of our national parks. We appreciate the dedication of all participants and their valuable contributions to our shared vision. Together, we are working towards a more sustainable, inclusive, and culturally rich future for our national parks and the communities they serve.
Through a Participatory Futures approach, we have interacted with over a thousand people since April to explore important topics and produce ideas. Themes and concerns will be clustered for
analysis of all of the contributions. We will finish the Environmental Scan in November and December 2023 and evaluate any further plans, policies, and procedures that we need to take into account or provide feedback on as we construct our vision. The ultimate Visioning and Strategy will be produced during the Think Days for Scenario Planning, which are scheduled for 15 – 19 January. In the last phase, prospection — a term used by futurists to describe the process of developing outcomes, as well as, high-level strategic responses will be developed. We will be ready to submit our Vision2040 and high-level plan by the end of March to Minister Creecy.