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Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Executive Director’s New Year Message

Zimbabwe Environmental Law

Association (ZELA)

  “Using the law to protect and conserve the environment”

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No. 26B Seke Road, Hatfield, Harare

Tel: +263 242 573601-3

Website: www.zela.org

25 January 2022

Dear Partners, Stakeholders and Donors

RE: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Executive Director’s New Year Message

Compliments of the season!

As we welcome the New Year, we thank you for being part of the last one and making it a prosperous and memorable year for us.

For us as a public interest law organization, the year 2022 is quite significant as we mark the third year of implementing our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan underlined by our vision to be a leading public interest environmental law and justice organization that safeguards the environment and empowers marginalized citizens and communities in Southern Africa. The large component of our work in 2022 will see us continuously building closer cooperation with communities and  policy makers as we influence legal and policy reforms and  implementation of laws and policies  governing the environment and natural resources sector.

Cyclone Idai in 2019, coupled with years of successive droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic and poor governance of natural resources, have had severe impacts on Zimbabwe’s populace. These disruptive shocks and crises have affected the country’s progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Lack of disaster preparedness and ineffective disaster risk response strategies have exacerbated the vulnerability of communities to climate change shocks. It is against this background that this year will see ZELA being seized with strengthening its Climate Change and Energy Governance   programme including  advocating for legal and policy reforms, civic education, promoting community action for climate justice and use of renewable energy sources. Loss of livelihoods and increasing poverty levels because of climate change is a major issue which affects the realization of human rights that are recognised and protected under national , regional and international law and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The inadequate capacity to sustainably manage natural resources, lack of community consultation and participation in decision making processes coupled with high poverty levels among the rural populace results in communities regarding environmental resources as their last resort. This results in unsustainable utilisation of natural resources such as water, land, wildlife, and forests among others. As noted in Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1 the rate of natural resource depletion and environmental degradation is affecting environmental sustainability which further impoverishes the vulnerable groups.[1] Besides governance and capacity challenges, the drive for economic development and poverty alleviation has traded off conservation priorities for development. There are a number of natural resources frameworks currently under review and for ZELA this is an opportunity to input to the processes with a view to promoting community participation in natural resources governance. Fully cognizant of the urgency to act, ZELA will make inputs to legal instruments under review such as the amendment to the Parks and Wildlife Act  , Review of the Wildlife Policy and the amendment of the Environmental Management Act. This will be entwined with promoting Improved participation of citizens and marginalized groups in governance, management, and utilisation of natural resources. Awareness , training and capacity building on governance is very critical if the ongoing legal and policy reforms are to find meaning in terms of implementation once enacted into law and adopted. Successful natural resources governance is dependent on strong governance of institutions and ZELA is primed for this through registration , training and capacity building.

As we kickstart 2022, we are reminded once again of the long history of natural resource development and the undisputable fact that these resources are finite and thus have to be responsibly managed with the goal of accelerating human development and supporting the country on the path towards self-sufficiency. As ZELA,we have collaborated with like minded organizations while mobilizing in calling for improved natural resources governance. We appreciate the successes and the growth of platforms such as the Publish What You Pay,the Alternative Mining Indaba among others. The year 2022 will see more collaborative work in our commitment to ensure broad based sustainable environmental and socio-economic development in Zimbabwe and beyond.

I wish you all a very successful year .Despite how tough the COVID-19 is and has been, we continue to keep the hope alive.

Please note, we are officially back from the holidays with effect from 17 January 2022. However, as we commit to adhere to COVID-19 regulations, we will continue working virtually until further notice. For any urgent matters, do not hesitate to email me at mutusod@zela.org.

Yours Sincerely,

Mutuso Dhliwayo


[1] NDS1 240.

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