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Climate Change Conference

Prevention of Climate change through Environmental and Natural Resource Management Empowerment in Zambia
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About the Event

Zambia has one of the highest percentages of land dedicated to protected areas which includes protected areas for wildlife, forests, fisheries/aquatic life and national or historical monuments. In spite of this, Zambia like many other developing countries has limited financial resources for natural resources and environmental management.

Deforestation and forest degradation has been reported to be worsening across the country despite the preparation of a National Environmental Action Plan in 1994.

Mechanisms for promoting stakeholder participation, especially the private sector and communities in environmental and natural resource management are ineffective; incentive mechanisms are absent, property rights to resources and land are not clearly defined and valuation of natural resources has been distorted leading to serious environmental threats. Poor resource valuation especially where proprietorship does not rest with those who share land with resources leads to replacement of wildlife and forests by other land users that are of higher economic benefit to communities occupying the land. This is particularly so if the costs of conservation are not matched or exceeded by its economic benefits. The mobilization of communities and sharing of benefits including income from utilization of natural resources provides incentives for community participation. Unfortunately, most community structures have limited capacity to effectively participate in natural resource management and the benefits of doing so are inadequate leading to a level of performance in NRM which is below.

The problem is however being worsened by not fully involving communities in environmental and natural resource management. Sustainable management of indigenous forests continues to be a growing challenge in Mongu and Kaoma district. Rural communities overexploit forest resources. The root causes of this are poverty, ignorance and rapid population growth. Most poor rural communities live close to rich natural forest resources, but most of these resources are mismanaged, overexploited leading to deforestation and forest degradation. The Zambian forests contain a wealth of biological diversity that offers an opportunity to develop income-generating activities based on non-timber forest products (NTFPs). However, innovative approaches need to be developed to assist rural communities in managing their forest resources in a sustainable manner. A community-based natural resource management approach needs to be applied in Mongu and Kaoma District if deforestation and forest degradation is to be curbed. The same approach needs to put the local people at the centre stage. This will in turn encourage communities to conserve and manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner because of the inherent direct value that the forests bring to them. The community-based natural resource management approach adopted should be encouraging innovative ideas and activities that are less destructive, sustainable and give better returns. This is what the project is promoting and the advantage of the proposed approach is that the technologies being encouraged are simple and cheap. Simplicity and low cost are critical factors for sustainability and extension to other communities that have access to similar natural resources. Further, the benefits accruing from sustainable management of natural resources are going to the needy, assisting them to escape the vicious circle of human poverty. Above all, public awareness of the exhaustion of natural resources needs to be part and parcel of the whole process of environmental and natural management.

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OPAD is in consultative status with:

* United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC)

* United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)

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