Zambia urges UN, AU to fully participate in environmental protection

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A ‘RIO + 20  from outcome to implementation’ high level meeting on the rule of law and the environment has opened in Nairobi, Kenya with the Zambian government urging the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) to be fully involved in the preservation of the environment in various countries.

Speaking during the 27th  session of a three-day United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) governing council meeting being held at the UN headquarters for Africa, Zambia’s Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Wilbur Simuusa said there was need to come up with legislation that will protect the environment.

Mr. Simuusa told delegates drawn from Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States and the Middle East among others that regional bodies such as Southern African Development Community (SADC), Great Lakes Region together with the UN and AU must help in the enforcement of the legislature that will help in the preservation of the environment.

Mr. Simuusa, who was accompanied to the meeting by the Zambia’s’ High Commissioner to Kenya, Mary Zambezi who is also the Permanent Representative to UNEP and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of lands, Daisy Ngámbi, said many countries, Zambia inclusive, have good legislature on the protection of the environment but they lack capacity to enforce them.

He said the world’s environment and natural resources risk being depleted if nothing is done urgently adding that there was need to promote the sustainable utilization of the natural resources.

Mr. Simuusa said if regional bodies come up with agreements that will ban the entry of forest products from one country to another, there will be significant protection of the environment unlike the current situation where these products are allowed to cross the borders freely and loaded in big ships heading to far places.

“Zambia for instance, is losing one of its forest species called Zambezi Tick at an alarming rate. This timber product is being taken out of the country and this is why we feel there should be a mechanism to international police so that this is stopped,” he said.

Mr. Simuusa added that Zambia was currently carrying out an assessment of the forest to determine the extent of forest depletion adding that the programme, which is in phase two, will form the basis of the formulation of interventions to protect the environment and natural resources.

And speaking at the same meeting, Edward Harrison representing the government of Jamaica, said his country has devised a system that monitors the protection and sustainable utilization of natural resources.

Mr. Harrison said the office of the Attorney General plays a big role in ensuring that there was compliance to the laws formulated in order to protect the environment.

During this 27th session of the UNEP governing council, ministerial consultations will focus on emerging policy issues under the overall theme: “Rio+20: from outcome to implementation”.

The council will also consider reports on a number of issues as requested by the council in its decisions adopted at previous sessions.

In addition, the council will take up any other issues that may be raised by its members.

During the ministerial consultations, ministers and heads of delegation are expected to engage in interactive discussions under the overall theme stated above. It is envisaged that the discussion will focus on the three topics; Rio+20 from outcome to implementation, emerging policy issues and state of the environment.