Roundtable on Zambia's Leadership in Sustainable Development and Climate Change Resilience
August 8, 2014 - On the occasion of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had the honor of hosting a roundtable dialogue with the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Dr. Guy Scott, to discuss environmental sustainability considerations in Zambia’s economic development. Vice President Scott was accompanied by His Excellency Ambassador Palan Mulonda, the Republic’s ambassador to the United States as well as senior government officials from various ministries, senior WWF staff, and invited guests from multilateral and bilateral development and environmental management partners.
On the occasion of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had the honor of hosting a roundtable dialogue with the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Dr. Guy Scott, to discuss environmental sustainability considerations in Zambia’s economic development. Vice President Scott was accompanied by His Excellency Ambassador Palan Mulonda, the Republic’s ambassador to the United States as well as senior government officials from various ministries, senior WWF staff, and invited guests from multilateral and bilateral development and environmental management partners.
In opening remarks, the WWF representative observed that Zambia’s unique and magnificent natural riches include not only its copper but natural wonders such as major wildlife areas and the Kufue River and other tributaries to the Zambezi River Basin, so important to southern Africa. Zambia’s economy was characterized as striking a complex balance among tourism, protection of natural areas, local community development, and exploitation of mineral resources – now with the added stress of climate change. Participants were reminded of the foresight shown by Zambia and its neighbors in creating the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area which represents the world’s largest transboundary conservation area, home to roughly one-half of Africa’s increasingly threatened elephants. A further welcome message was delivered on behalf of WWF’s Board Chair, Mr. Neville Isdell.
Ambassador Mulonda used his introduction of Vice President Scott to note the context of the dialogue, coming at the end of an historic week of high level discussions built around the US-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Obama. He characterized Zambia as being fully committed to the global movement to achieve sustainable development.
Vice President Scott’s remarks centered on the importance his country is now placing on developing the tourism and agriculture sectors to create jobs and support a diverse economy. He described Zambia’s natural treasures and demographic conditions, and recalled traditional over-dependence upon the capital intensive and price sensitive copper industry. The Vice President noted the difficulties of addressing wildlife poaching in a system of protected areas equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom and stressed that conservation funds must support community development while respecting Zambia’s governance structures and local authorities – putting the aspirations of local populations first both to acknowledge local rights and ensure social sustainability. Vice President Scott ended his remarks by expressing his desire for international cooperation to support Zambia’s sustainable development, including renewed and strengthened ties with WWF.
During an active dialogue among the participants, discussions centered on five main topics:
Wildlife Crime: The representative of TRAFFIC indicated there is growing evidence that the same elements tied to decimation of elephant populations in Tanzania through poaching are turning their attention to Zambia, putting the country’s wildlife and associated tourism industry at risk. He offered to share information and facilitate contacts with international agencies addressing this problem. The Vice President welcomed such support reiterating the need for community based approaches to combatting wildlife crime.
Public Sector Engagement: The representative of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) described the GEF as a country driven mechanism, with funds allocated to Zambia for work on biodiversity conservation, land degradation and climate change, including a program on wildlife poaching and illegal wildlife trade. He also indicated countries are encouraged to blend their GEF funding to achieve wider impact. WWF mentioned it has recently become an agency of the GEF and offered to assist the Government in accessing these funds. Ambassador Mulonda expressed a desire to follow up with WWF and the GEF, recalling that wildlife trafficking was a topic raised by President Obama for cooperation during the Summit. The representative of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) indicated they are working closely with the Zambian Forest Ministry and exploring a public-private partnership model under USAID’s Global Development Alliance to on poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Sustainable Energy and Cross-Sector Integration: The question of Zambia’s sustainable energy sources was raised, including debates about large hydropower development and its relationship to important conservation decisions. The Vice President agreed that both southern Zambia and Zimbabwe are short of energy and acknowledged there are several large hydropower dams under consideration – noting the importance of sound water management in the Kafue and other rivers of the country and the need to recognize water and land rights for local community development. Ambassador Mulonda stressed the country’s interest in renewable energy and diversifying its power sources, noting the expanded use of solar power and recent efforts to identify geothermal, wind and other renewable energy resources.
Regional Cooperation: The question was raised as to whether regional cooperation can play a role in addressing conservation and sustainability issues, especially through KAZA. The Vice President noted the strong links Zambia has with its neighboring countries, including through migratory wildlife. Vice President Scott acknowledged Zambia’s central position within KAZA and the opportunity for leadership offered through regional cooperation in addressing conservation priorities.
At the conclusion of the dialogue, Vice President Scott expressed a desire to see that the good ideas and renewed relationships established through the roundtable generate results for the benefit of Zambia. Three main themes emerged in this regard:
Coordination: Throughout the course of the discussion it became clear that the institutions present had formed strong engagement with Zambia. However, it became apparent that opportunities exist for improved coordination and collaboration. All present were encouraged to coordinate their efforts and seek opportunities for partnership relating to tourism, wildlife, energy, and finance.
Information Exchange and Dialogue: Participants agreed to provide a short summary report documenting the discussions as a reference for further action. Opportunities also were identified for additional information sharing on the topics discussed at the meeting, including financing opportunities, wildlife crime trends and energy development, with the Zambian Embassy to facilitate these efforts.
In-Country Follow Up: It was further agreed that opportunities identified should be refined through discussions in Zambia, building on relationships established with the Vice President’s office through the roundtable, and potentially reporting back to the Vice President on progress achieved. WWF offered to facilitate this in cooperation with the Government and its WWF-Zambia office.