Negative impact of development through natural resources
Nairobi, February 21, ZANIS ——- Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Wylbur Simuusa says while the Zambian economy has continued to record growth over the past years in the sectors of mining, agriculture, tourism and construction, this has resulted in environmental and social impacts.
Mr Simuusa said that these social impacts include urbanization, increased natural resource exploitation, pollution, changing consumer patterns and subsequent pressure on the environment.
Mr Simuusa was speaking in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday when he addressed the 27th session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum being held at the UN headquarters for Africa.
Mr Simuusa told delegates drawn from Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States, and Middle East , among others that as a result of these impacts, the country is experiencing a situation where human wellbeing is being improved at the expense of environmental integrity.
He however, said that Zambia is putting in place mechanisms to promote sound environmental and natural resources management.
Mr Simuusa who was accompanied to the meeting by Zambia’s Permanent Representative to UNEP, Mary Zambezi and Lands Permanent Secretary Daisy Ngámbi said the Zambian government is also strengthening the legislative frame work to enable this to happen.
The minister said in the quest to address issues of clean environment, the government is working with various stakeholders including the international community to promote programmes that would help local communities to shift their economic dependence on natural resource exploitation to more sustainable livelihood practices.
“The quest to achieve sound environmental and natural resources management is marred by a number of challenges including the following; Insufficient funding in the wake of different competing needs that the government has to finance, insufficient expertise and human resources to effectively translate government policy into workable programmes on the ground, lack of cooperation by some stakeholders and insufficient education and awareness on the role of environment in achieving sustainable development including the cost of environmental mismanagement to the country’s development process, “said Mr Simuusa.
He lamented that these challenges make it difficult to enforce environmental laws and regulations adding that the difficulties in accessing international funding from the international organisations such as the Global environmental Facility (GEF) to implement national programmes remains a huge setback due to the long procedures and conditionality’s that govern such finance.
Mr Simuusa said that there is need for capacity building in terms of human resource as well as technology transfer from developed to developing countries.
Mr Simuusa further disclosed that Two-thirds of Zambia lies under forest cover and 34% under protected area systems saying forests play a crucial climate change mitigation role which Zambia is determined to support through the climate change negotiation process.
He said that Zambia’s forests although under pressure in both quality and quantity already, provide carbon sinks through sequestration, a process helping the poor communities to participate in reducing climate change impacts.
The Government official said Zambia is pleased that UNEP has continued to focus around the theme “Rio+20: from outcome to implementation” and international environmental governance as important tools for achieving sustainable development.
He said that Zambia has taken some steps in embracing issues of implementation of the Rio+20 Outcome adding that although the issues addressed in Rio may seem daunting, Zambia recognizes the need for development to be sustainable and that it needs all three strands – economic, environmental and social – to be engaged.
The outcome of Rio + 20 was dismissed by some as an epic failure for its lack of specific commitments with appropriate resources.
The emphasis of Rio was the call for countries to use domestic resources to pursue a sustainable development path.
Mr. Simuusa said Zambia will continue to look to its development partners and the wider international community for the support, essential to achieve sustainable development for its people.
Zambia has also reiterated that what countries need is not so much new sources of financing but access to technology, if the transition to a Green Economy is to be realized.
The Lands minister has also said that implementation of Rio outcomes will require a systematic approach to ensure that they are implemented.
He added that this could also include “domestication” of programmes within the national development plans.
Mr. Simuusa informed the delegates that Zambia has embarked on a nation-wide tree planting programme which could be scaled up by leveraging bilateral and multilateral support.
“Providing modern energy to all Zambians is essential for the development of our people and country. A significant population of the Zambian people still relies on biomass energy to meet their domestic energy requirements. Approximately 70 percent of the population has no access to electricity,” said Mr Simuusa.
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative is aimed at bringing electricity and clean burning stoves to those without by 2030.
Zambia must therefore position itself to leverage UN support to scale up its efforts towards improving access to cleaner sources of energy.
This will also help address the issue of charcoal burning which is one of the main drivers of deforestation.