Forests the Key to Wealth and Job Creation for Zambia

02 May 2013

imageZambia Forest

The Government of the Republic of Zambia held its first national dialogue on climate change and sustainable development this week. The high-level event provided a platform for government Ministers and officials, the private sector, the civil society, the media, the youth, Cooperating Partners and the United Nations to exchange ideas on how to move Zambia towards a more sustainable development path in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June 2012.

The one-day National Dialogue on Climate Change Issues and Preparations for Rio +20 held on Tuesday 24 April 2012 in Lusaka, discussed priorities under the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS), climate change financing opportunities for Zambia and stakeholder inputs to Zambia’s position for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as “Rio +20”. Perspectives were provided by the Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN system, traditional chiefs, youth representatives, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Community Based Natural Resources Forum and other NGOs, and from the Embassies of Finland, Brazil and Norway. His Honour the Vice-President, Dr. Guy Scott, who officially opened the National Dialogue on Climate Change and Preparations for Rio +20, said that the Government needs to become more focused on enforcing the environmental laws, which are already in place and to put into effect good governance practices so that Zambian forests, aquatic and agricultural environments are properly looked after.

In his opening remarks, His Honour the Vice-President, Dr. Guy Scott, said that the Government needs to become more focused on enforcing the environmental laws, which are already in place and to put into effect good governance practices so that Zambian forests, aquatic and agricultural environments are properly looked after. “The Government of the Republic of Zambia is committed through our civil servants to come up with practical action oriented plans, which ensure that we are accessing the money available to us properly, without ministries bickering among themselves and slowing down the progress. Zambia should not be among the countries, which are the least prepared to address issues arising from climate change. We need to act now,” Dr. Guy Scott said.

Dr. Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP HQ, was invited by the Government to attend the national dialogue to provide global policy and insights, cross country learning and to facilitate Zambia’s submissions and preparations for Rio +20, climate change negotiations and the climate financing options available. In her opinion, Zambia has an opportunity to benefit much more from global climate financing, just as Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Indonesia are doing. “To benefit from international climate financing that will increasingly become available from many different sources, countries must start preparing now and set up the necessary national coordination and financial mechanisms that will enable them to access, integrate and sequence these different sources of international climate funds and blend them with domestic and private sector financing. And this has to happen right away,” Dr. Vandeweerd stressed. In his official closing remarks, Honourable Wylbur C. Simuusa, Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection said he had heard a lot of practical ideas and action-oriented suggestions to help Zambia going forward in this field. He also said that the national stakeholder’s assessment of the environmental situation and the challenges that persisted in implementing programmes in the forestry, climate change and natural resources management were accurate, and that such would and must be overcome. “The environment sector has the greatest potential to help our country grow. It has the potential to provide more jobs and more benefits. As a new minister, my ministry will raise the profile and awareness of climate change programmes in the country, as Zambians do not fully appreciate the wealth and job creation potential we have in our forests. Today, our mines provide for 9 percent of our GDP and our forests only account for 5 percent, while there are countries where 30 to 40 percent of their GDP is generated from the forests. As Zambia has over 40 percent of the water resources of the region, 30 percent of the forests covering Southern Africa and we have the perfect climate and soil to plant, harvest and produce, we as a country need to look seriously into benefiting from all this potential and significantly increasing its contribution to the national wealth,” the Minister said, in conclusion.