It is a pleasure to join you this morning for this Orientation/ Capacity Building Workshop in Green Finance.
Let me begin by commending the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for its efforts towards Biodiversity Financing or BIOFIN.
We all know that Zambia’s biodiversity of 20 national parks, eight Ramsar wetland sites, 42 important bird areas and eight major fishery areas is currently at risk. This has been instigated by the loss of biodiversity, which has reached unprecedented levels largely driven by economic drivers such as agriculture expansion which accounts for over 70% of forest cover loss.
Through BIOFIN, the financial situation affecting biodiversity and natural resources is now apparent and requires intervention from both the public and private sector. The gaps in budgetary allocations to environment protection and also the finance released is far below that which is budgeted for. It is estimated that over 70% of all funds for environment protection in Zambia comes from other donor countries through their overseas development assistance (ODA).
For us all to be here today, means that the Government and the BIOFIN team completed the national BIOFIN process of the policy and institutional review, biodiversity expenditure review and the financial needs assessment, which has recommended that Zambia join the rest of the world in green financing to increase the levels of financial flows to more sustainable development priorities. This is the last phase of the process but is only the beginning of creating an enabling and conducive situation for green financing that will help us manage both the environmental and social risks, which will lead to larger returns on environmental benefits that we are losing as a result of from business as usual.
This morning, I will focus on two major points. My first point focuses on the importance of green financing.
As we are all aware every country has the mandate to transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy and this must happen quickly. This is not because of the Paris Declaration, of which we are signatories, but because climate change is presenting us, globally, with both a political and economic challenge. All sectors, including government and the private sector need to raise up to the challenge and address the complexity of the issues we are facing. Therefore, business as usual is not an option.
In this era where investment for social and environmental initiatives is dwindling and globally the biodiversity gap is estimated at US$150 and US$440 billion; Green Financing gives a ray of hope for specific initiatives to be funded in all sectors from infrastructure, transport, energy to agriculture. With Government financing towards environmental protection remaining at a constant of 0.6 per cent, and only half being released compared to other departments such as infrastructure and agriculture, we thus realise the need for all of us to play a role in the process that promotes green finance as a means to promote global trade and mitigate climate change.
Government is leading with the innovative financial policy and domestic infrastructure. That means legislation, harmonization and creation of green fiscal incentives, harmonization and creation of green standards and tariffs, financing for sustainable natural resource-based green economies and climate-smart blue economy and finally alignment and focusing of decision making towards Sustainable Development Goals. Market driven transformation is needed from the business sector and financial institutions that are adapting their business models, skills and incentives to match the risk-reward and maturity needs of sustainable investments and meet this challenge.
Which brings me to my second point Ladies and Gentlemen.
How do we empower women, as agents of change and front runners to build new pathways or accelerate transition to sustainability? The importance of mainstreaming gender into this process cannot be over-emphasized.
We all know that women play critical roles as primary land managers and resource users, and yet they face disproportionate impacts both from biodiversity loss and gender-blind conservation measures. For example, while women in many countries are increasingly taking on responsibility for managing small-scale agriculture, they do not have an equivalent voice in decision-making related to land use, nor equal access to needed resources. Biodiversity loss also poses a disproportionate burden for women and girls by increasing the time required to obtain necessary resources such as water, fuel wood, and medicinal plants, which reduces the time they can spend on income generating activities and education.
BIOFIN recognizes the importance of equal participation, access, benefit-sharing and control over resources of women and men as a catalyst for sustainable development results. There are some considerations to promote consistent results in gender equality, equity and biodiversity conservation, which should include ensuring reviews of institutions, strategies and policies using gender lens in planning, budgeting, implementing, monitoring and evaluation. This is important to ensure provision of opportunities for gender equality, equity, women’s empowerment and closure of the gender gap. Many financing solutions such as bioprospecting, carbon off-setting and green financing contribute directly to gender and biodiversity benefits and therefore we should strive to have equal and equitable participation and access to all planning, decision making, implementation and evaluations of the green financing solution.
Lastly, I must commend the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Gender in launching the Climate Change Gender Action Plan (ccGAP) last year. This gives initiatives like this one in Zambia a platform to begin to address the gaps in gender actions and deliberately including the participations for women in all aspects of conservation.
In conclusion, I also thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here and I genuinely believe that you will leave here after the two days fully satisfied that you know that Zambia should take the route of A Green Finance solution and you understand how to go about it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you as we await the validation of the Green financing policy.