Saturday, 15 December 2012

INJUSTICE AND CONFLICT AT THE COST OF MINES


When a mining operation arrives on your land, injustice and conflict arises. Natural resources that are immediately available to a community are land, clean water, trees, wildlife and clean air. However, communities are becoming increasingly aware of minerals that are in there areas such as gold, copper, coal, platinum, uranium, oil and diamonds. 

Communities have used natural resources such as the land, water, trees, wildlife and air for centuries. In many cases, communities have even mined minerals such as copper and iron from pre-colonial times to make tools and jewellery. However, many communities in SADC are increasingly finding themselves in conflict with mining corporations who want to mine the minerals and natural resources commercially.

Displaced Family
Commercial mining leads to community loss of land, the destruction of land, trees and wildlife and the pollution of water and air. This destruction of natural resources has led to landlessness, force removals, poverty, unemployment, diseases, homelessness and loss of cultural and identity in communities living in proximity to mining operations. It is therefore, understandable that communities have at times responded with hostility and sometimes even violence to mining operations.

Experience as taught us that issues that lead to injustice and conflict over mining are that;
1.      Mining companies start prospecting on communities land without first talking to the community and obtaining prior informed consent from the community. This means, they begin looking for minerals without getting permission from the community first.

2.      Mining Companies start constructing mines on community land without first talking to the community and obtaining prior informed consent from the community.

3.      Where mining companies do consult with communities, they do not seek prior informed consent permission. Instead, they use such consultations as evidence of engagement so as to obtain prospecting or mining licenses from the Department of Minerals.

4.      Where mining companies do consult, they do not make the information that communities require to make prior informed consent possible. Thus they deny communities’ access to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s), Environmental Management Plans (EMPs), and Social Management Plans (SMPs), hydrological impact information, Information about the energy consumption, health and safety information and disaster management plans.

It is evident that, Communities lack access to information that will allow them to negotiate from a position of knowledge and power. Therefore, mines force communities off their land, homes and do not compensate them adequately for this forced removal which is 100% disrespect of culture and heritage of communities. You may question, why do i say so: 80% of mines prevent communities from participating fully in the benefits of mining such as joint ownership, employment, procurement, management and they do not make proper provisions for mine closure and completion, leaving communities with Massive Environmental and Social Costs Posts closure.
 
I urge all Environmental Civil Society Organisations to advocate for 'THE RIGHT OF THE COMMUNITY TO CONTINUED PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT TO BE RECOGNISED, AS WEL AS THE RIGHT OF COMMUNITY TO INDEPENDENT LEGAL REPRESENTATION AND EXPERT TECHNICAL, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVICE MUST BE RECOGNISED BY THE MINING COMPANY AT ALL TIMES'

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

COMBATING WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING: RESPECT AND PROTECT


Web-chat with Jeff Corwin at U.S Embassy Zambia
On the 4th December, 2012, I was invited by the United States of America Embassy-Zambia to be part of the Wildlife Conservation Web-chat with Jeff Corwin. Jeff Corwin is an American Wildlife Biologist and Conservationist best known as the host of Animal Planet television programs. The institutions present at this event were Youth Image Solutions, WWF-Zambia, ZEMA, YALI and Nature Zambia.

During the web-chat with Jeff Corwin, I realized that many of us are here on earth because protecting wildlife is a matter of protecting our planet’s natural beauty. We see it as a stewardship responsibility for us and this generation and future generations to come. But it is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue that is critical to each and every individual in each country. Unfortunately, we all contribute to the continued demand for illegal animal goods. Wildlife might be targeted and killed across Africa and Asia, but their furs, tusks, bones and horns are sold all over the world. Smuggled goods from poached animals find their way to Europe, Australia, China, and the United States.

Black Elephant
It is estimated that, the flow of Ivory from Africa to East Africa has been at 72 tons per year, worth $62 million, and equivalent to 7,000 elephants. The price of powdered rhino horn has reached $20,000 to $35,000 per Kilo, and Tiger skins retailed for up to $20,000 in 2009. So, if you love animals, if you want to see a more secure world, if you want our economy not to be corrupt by this kind of behavior, there is so much we can do together. After all, the world’s wildlife, both on land and in our waters is such precious resource, but it is also a limited one. It cannot be manufactures and once it’s gone, it cannot be replenished. And those who benefit illegally are just not undermining our borders and our economies; they are truly stealing from the next generation. So we have to work together to stop them and ensure a sustainable future for our wildlife, the People who live with them and the people who appreciate them everywhere.
Therefore,we need our governments, civil society, businesses, scientist, and activities to come together to educate people about the harms of wildlife trafficking. 
  •   We need law enforcement personnel to prevent poachers from preying on wildlife.
  • We need trade experts to truck the movements for goods and help enforce existing trade laws.
  • We need finance experts to study and help undermine the black markets that deal in wildlife
  • We need to reach individuals and convince them to make right choices about the goods they purchase
Rhino
It is also evident that Wildlife Trafficking relies on porous borders, corrupt officials and strong networks of organized crime, all of which undermine our mutual security. In this regards, it can be of interest to all Zambians if the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) can produce an assessment of the impact of large-scale wildlife trafficking on our security so we can fully understand what we are up against.

The questions are;

  1. How can local communities help fight against poachers and how hard is it to fight against poachers?
  2. How best can the sense of ownership be restored to communities living with wildlife?
  3. What advice can be given to young people in Zambia to ensure that we develop interest in wildlife conservation?
  4. What programs has the Zambian government and Zambia Wildlife Authority put in place to protect the wildlife?
  5. What is WWF Zambia and other conservation organizations doing to protect wildlife against these threats?
For further information visit: http://conx.state.gov/digital-diplomacy
 
''WILDLIFE CRIME IS A SERIOUS CRIME, TOGETHER WE CAN - AND WILL END WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING''

Sunday, 2 December 2012

WHO OWNS THE FOREST AND WHO BENEFITS: REDD+ CHALLENGE


Forest in Zambia
Zambia is a country with total land area of 755,000sq.KM of which 7Million hectares constitute to be gazetted forest area. The forest department has approximately 50million hectors of forest with an estimated deforestation rate of 250,000 to 300, 000 hectares per year. About 7% of land is categorized as state land and the 93% (ECZ,2008) being traditional land (under customary tenure) and leaders exercise considerable influence and control. The "plus" in REDD+ is an important addition, because it includes the role of conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stock as well. So, the challenge with REDD+ is who owns the forest and who will benefits?
Undoubtedly, deforestation contains to be a big challenge in Zambia. The uncontrolled cutting down of trees for charcoal, timber and other use for livelihood have continued to deplete the country’s forests. This is due to lack of information on the importance of trees, forests and dangers of deforestation. The high poverty and unemployment levels in the country have also contributed to the rise in the cutting down of trees as people use them for economic various activities in order to earn an income. The accumulative effects of tree and forest loss including environmental degradation have contributed to regional and global climate imbalances.

Deforestation in Zambia
REDD stands for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation. It is an international effort through the United Nations (UN) to collect funds from developed nations to offer incentives to developing countries to protect and better manage forest land. This is critical for the global fight against climate change. Analyzing from afar on the ongoing COP 18 negotiations in Doha, Qatar that started on the 26th November - 8th December, 2012, it is evident that;
  1. REDD+ is far from effectively being implemented globally 
  2.  There is no global policy on REDD+ and it depends entirely on the commitment of each country to implement it within its own constituencies 
  3. There is high threat of fraud and corruption because of the huge money involved in the REDD+ implementation
The Zambian Government launched UN REDD+ in 2010 with the motivate to develop Zambia’s capacity to prepare for a future REDD+ mechanism, expected to provide financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; and by receiving compensation for sustainable management of the resources allowing communities to be engaged in other alternative livelihoods. In addition, it was emphasised that the UN-REDD Programme in Zambia will primarily focus on building institutional and stakeholder capacities, developing an enabling policy environment as well as benefit-sharing models and adequate monitoring, reporting and verifications system. The launch was attended by more than 70 people from various organizations, NGOs, government ministries, academia, private sector, media, and civil society organizations participated. Link: UN REDD PROGRAM NEWSLETTER ISSUE # 15 Dec 2010/Jan 2011


 (Speakers at the implementation launch of Zambia's UN-REDD National Programme, from L to R: Kanni Wignaraja, United Nations Resident Coordinator; Vera Tembo, Zambian Deputy Minister of Tourism Environment and Natural Resources; Marja Ojanen, Embassy of Finland; and Lillian Kapulu, Permanent Secretary MTENR)
Therefore, what we need is a policy system that does not deprive local people or undermine their rights over their land. I have also been surprised to learn that while my government made a commitment for REDD+, they still have been giving land permits to many logging, mining and natural gas companies in the last years. This is a complete contradiction to their effort to save the earth, which makes me wonder if their commitment to REDD+ is not to save the earth but just for monetary gain. In addition the issues of corruption, I also still wonder if REDD+ can really save the forests of the world. The question is, Can REDD+ incentives really compete with what the logging, mining, oil, gas and agricultural multinational companies are offering to land owners?