Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio Launch of the Project “Building Resilience for local communities in Zambia through the introduction of Ecosystems Based Adaptation (EbA) in priority ecosystems, including Wetlands and Forests”

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Honourable Jean Kapata, MP
Provincial Minister for Luapula Province
All Royal highnesses present

  • Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Ndashe Yumba
  • Other Permanent Secretaries present
  • Senior Government Official present
  • The Representative from Birdwatch
  • Director and Regional Representative of UNEP, Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo
  • UN Colleagues
  • Distinguished Guests

It is a great pleasure to represent the United Nations family in Zambia on this occasion to launch the project on “Building the resilience of local communities in Zambia through the introduction of Ecosystem-based Adaptation into priority ecosystems, including wetlands and forests.”

When the world prepared to launch the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, one of the main messages that encouraged and drove the whole world to endorse the Global Goals was that to ensure Sustainable Development that would meet our own present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Climate change is today one of the main issues that we encounter and one that threatens to compromise the life of our future generations. 

Climate Change has led to unpredictable and more frequent adverse weather patterns, causing droughts and floods. Therefore, happy to witness today’s the launch of Zambia’s project with Zambian Govt and UNEP. During this Decade of Action towards SDGs, we need to act, build resilience and strengthen climate change adaptation.

This project comes at a time when Zambia has been experiencing unpredictable and more frequent adverse weather patterns, causing droughts and floods, having negative impacts on the livelihood of Zambians. This is affecting the agriculture, livelihoods, the economy as well as resulting in food insecurity, population displacement and massive infrastructure damage. In the long run, adverse weather patterns are depleting the resilience of communities in Zambia. It is worth noting that in Zambia, the rate of deforestation is estimated at more than 270,000 hectares per year, continuing to damage the environment and causing induced climate change.

In addition, the climate change vulnerability of rural communities in Zambia is being worsened by ongoing degradation of wetlands and forests and an associated reduction in the provision of ecosystem services. As we have heard from the presentation on the project objectives by the Department, the project will apply ecosystem-based adaptation strategies to generate win-win achievements towards increasing the capacity and resilience of communities living in around Lukanga and Bangweulu wetland ecosystems and adjacent forest areas. The project will help the communities to adopt additional sustainable livelihoods and climate-resilient agricultural techniques in order to decrease their vulnerability to climate change and reduce degradation of wetland and forest ecosystems.

Honourable Minister, ladies and gentlemen

This project is commendable. I wish to congratulate the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the UN Environment Programme on successfully securing Leads Development Country Fund of 6.185 million US Dollars and an additional co-financing commitment of 15.3 million US Dollars from partner institutions and programmes. The four-year project we are launching today will be implemented by the Department of Environment and Climate Change of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, and with UNEP as the Global Environment Facility’s Implementing Agency.

We are encouraged that the project will adopt a participatory and consultative approach engaging with communities, traditional and local authorities, sector ministries and private sector entities. A cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach will be central to the success of this project. 

On behalf of the UN in Zambia, I wish to commend the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and UN Environment Programme for ensuring that the project will contribute to four of the 10 adaptation priorities identified in Zambia’s National Adaptation Programme of Action, namely:

  1. Priority 3 on “Promotion of alternative sources of livelihoods to reduce vulnerability to climate change/variability to communities living around Game Management Areas (GMAs)”;
  2. Priority 5 on “Promote natural regeneration of indigenous forests”;
  3. Priority 6 on “Adaptation of land use practices (crops, fish, and livestock) in light of climate change”; and
  4. Priority 8 on “Eradication of invasive alien species”.

Honourable Minister, ladies and gentlemen

As we all know, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that has had devastating effects across all sectors. As we continue seeking ways of recovering from the pandemic and building better, I wish to encourage the Ministry and UNEP to ensure that this project contributes to Zambia’s post-COVID-19 recovery programme by promoting green incoming and employment creation activities as part of its support to climate-resilient agriculture and additional sustainable livelihoods.

I am happy to note that the project is also perfectly in line with the UN support to the Government through the UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework 2016-2022 as it aims to increase the resilience of Zambians within the context of climate change. We are eager to learn about the project progress and achievements in the coming months and years. We would like to learn from its implementation with the aim of informing future UN programming in Zambia and supporting the wider replication of successful ecosystem-based adaptation results across other areas in Zambia.

I THANK YOU

Speech by
Author
Coumba Mar Gadio
Resident Coordinator
RCO
Coumba Mar Gadio, PhD
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNEP
United Nations Environment Programme
Other entities involved in this initiative
GEF
Global Environmental Facility