President Hakainde Hichilema says it is saddening that the current consumption and production patterns in Zambia are not in support of the needed environmental sustainability.
He said consumption and production patterns were compromising both the needs of the current generation and the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
President Hichilema said this in a speech read for him by acting Green Economy and Environment Minister Rodney Sikumba during the official opening of the 2023 Environmental Protection Dialogue (EPD) in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Hichilema said Zambia had been experiencing increased environmental damage owing to escalating levels of land degradation, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and air pollution, inadequate and poor sanitation and increased use of persistent organic pollutants.
President Hichilema said those were coupled with increased use of other chemicals of global concern in the supply chain of commercial and domestic products of highly hazardous pesticides that entered world food supply.
Mr Hichilema said those challenges were exacerbated mainly due to mining and other extractive industries, agriculture and forestry products harvesting, settlements, waste management and pollution, as well as forest fires.
He said climate variability especially droughts and floods also made the country highly vulnerable to increased environmental degradation leading to huge economic losses.
President Hichilema said there was need to be mindful that as Zambia’s economy grew, demand for extraction of natural resources grew also, leading to more environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources and creation of unhealthy ecosystems.
The President said all the various players needed to come together and dialogue so that lasting solutions could be found to both the current and future developmental issues.
President Hichilema said the Government firmly believed that dialogue was key to finding lasting solutions to the various challenges, including solutions to the numerous environmental problems the country was facing.
Paramount Chief Chitimukulu urged the Government to ensure that seminars and workshops at provincial level with traditional leaders were held as most of them lacked knowledge on social justice and environmental equity.
Chief Chitimukulu further appealed for support from NGOs and especially Sweden, which used to help a lot on environmental issues.
He said traditional leaders had a critical role in ensuring that the Government financing mechanisms were signed in ways that were aligned to their values.
Centre for Environmental Justice board chairperson Vincent Ziba said the EPD had since its inception in 2020 served as a beacon of hope, a space where diverse stakeholders came together to address Zambia’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Swedish Embassy deputy Head of Mission Susanna Hughes said Sweden had been and remained a long-standing partner to Zambia and that was clearly manifested in an extensive development cooperation between the two countries, including the area of environment, climate and renewable energy, among others.