Sifelani Tsiko — Zimbabwe must take bold steps to verify the economic value and monetary value of the country’s natural resources to promote sustainable development in line with the objectives of the National Development Strategy (NDS1), a senior government official has said .
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Secretary Munesu Munodawafa told participants at a workshop on developing a landscape conservation strategy for the Middle Zambezi that the undervaluation of the country’s natural capital and ecological services made it difficult for this sector to obtain budgetary support from the government and even international partners.
“We are rich in terms of biodiversity. There is a lot in what we have in terms of biodiversity and ecological services,” he said.
“We continue to brag about biodiversity and yet we cannot value it. Our government and international partners find it difficult to offer us support. When we don’t have the numbers or depend on thumb sucking , we won’t get budget support let alone funding from our international partners”
Most countries only measure population and economic growth without paying much attention to the natural environment.
However, Zimbabwe needs to take another step in strengthening its production of environmental statistics after a study on the national economics of biodiversity was commissioned last September.
This will help collect data and information on the country’s biodiversity and map strategies on how best to harness it for long-term economic growth and the achievement of the 2030 Vision.
Being accountable for its natural resources will help the country manage its natural resources and ecosystems, know how much of a particular resource it has and how quickly it is being depleted or replenished.
“Zimbabwe will be one of the first African countries in Africa to do national capital accounting and I look forward to the impact of the Middle Zambezi Landscape Conservation Strategy,” Munodawafa said.
The Senior Vice President of the African Wildlife Foundation, Charly Facheux, pledged to continue supporting the government in terms of supporting wildlife conservation.
“Biodiversity is one of the biggest sectors that will drive Zimbabwe’s national development aspiration,” he said.
“AWF remains committed to Zimbabwe and we want to use the Middle Zambezi Landscape Conservation Strategy report as traction or a model for other African countries.”
Experts say that counting a country’s natural capital and its ecological services provides strong insights for leaders to formulate and refine development policies and interventions in areas such as the environment, forest management, agribusiness, local government, green and blue economy.
Zimbabwe is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and efforts are underway to find ways to harness the sector so that it can contribute effectively to economic growth.
The country has a rich biodiversity base which includes 5,930 plant species, 670 bird species, 270 mammal species, 156 reptile species, 120 amphibian species and 150 fish species found in and around the outside protected areas.
African countries are increasingly turning to biodiversity as a key contributor to their GDP as sustainability, climate change and biodiversity loss take center stage on the development agendas of many economies.