Effective transboundary cooperation among Botswana, Angola and Namibia on management of the shared Cubango-Okavango River Basin is critical for the conservation of the Okavango Delta World Heritage property (Botswana), inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014 under criteria (vii) (ix) and (x) due to its exceptional biodiversity and scenic values. Almost all water that flows to the Okavango Delta comes from Angola, passing through Namibia on its way to the Delta in Botswana.
The benefits of including additional key areas of the Cubango-Okavango River Basin, including those in Namibia and Angola, to the Okavango Delta World Heritage property have been recognised as ways to improve the ecological integrity and conservation of this unique landscape. While Namibia had already included parts of the Okavango river system in its territory on its World Heritage Tentative List in 2016, the Tentative List of Angola does not yet include any natural sites. The Okavango Delta in Botswana and the Bwabwata–Okavango in Namibia are also designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Angola is currently in the process of ratifying the Ramsar Convention and updating its World Heritage Tentative List.
The tripartite Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) has a number of ongoing initiatives to support sustainable management of the basin and its water resources, and the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) supports sustainable development, conservation and tourism in the broader Okavango and Zambezi River Basin regions. The State Party of Botswana is additionally pursuing bilateral discussions with Namibia and Angola regarding the possible transboundary cooperation and the extension of the World Heritage property.
The State Party of Botswana, through the Botswana National Museum and Monuments as the custodian agency to the World Heritage Convention in the country, hosted this technical meeting to discuss the possibility to consider the transboundary extension of Okavango Delta World Heritage property. The meeting was co-organised with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, with funding available through the UNESCO/Flanders Funds-in-Trust cooperation of the Government of Flanders (Belgium) for the project “Improving the representation of African sites on the World Heritage List: upstream support for natural heritage”.