31 January 2020

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is a premier public interest environmental law organisation which seeks to promote environmental justice, sustainable and equitable use of natural resources, democracy and good governance in the natural resources and environment sector. ZELA’s work is mainly anchored on a core group of rights which are reflective of natural resources governance namely; Environmental, Economic, Social and Cultural (EESC) rights. As such a large component of the organisation's work involves influencing implementation and reforms within legal and institutional frameworks governing the environment and natural resources sector through research, civic education and advocacy.

As an organisation we believe that having adequate laws in place and monitoring implementation are the first steps towards good governance of natural resources and the environment. For the past 20 years, we have managed to make notable contributions to the legal, policy and institutional frameworks governing the environment and natural resources sector for broad based sustainable environmental and socio-economic development through our work in Zimbabwe and beyond.

Through this newsletter, we get to share with you relevant updates as we drive our mission of promoting environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilization of natural resources and environmental protection.

Wetlands vital in protecting our biodiversity

WORLD WETLANDS DAY  [2nd February 2020]

Theme: Wetlands and Biodiversity

The World Wetlands Day celebrated on the 2nd February of every year marks the date for the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) in the Iranian City of Ramsar on the same day in 1971. The Ramsar Convention recognises the extreme importance of the ecological functions of Wetlands.

Significance of the theme

This year, the theme for the day is "wetlands and biodiversity".  The theme highlights the integrated significance of wetlands to people and planet. Wetlands nurture a great diversity of life, provide water and other resources, flooding safeguards and act as giant filters easing pollution. Biodiversity encompasses all species of microbes, plants and animals, their genetic material and the ecosystems in which they occur. Where wetlands have healthy biodiversity, they provide indispensable ecosystem services. What the theme seeks to remind us is that, Wetland biodiversity matters for our well-being, health, our food supply and business (tourism).

On the ground

Zimbabwe’s Wetlands are declining at an alarming rate, negatively impacting biodiversity and in turn people. The World Wetland Day comes at a time when Zimbabwe has ratified both the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Additionally, several laws and policies are in place to ensure Wetlands protection. For instance, the Constitution of Zimbabwe has justiciable environmental rights .The Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27) and Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 Environmental Management (EIA and Ecosystems Protection Regulations), Water Act and the Regional Town and Country Planning Act all govern wetland utilisation in Zimbabwe. There is no doubt that there is in existence  a legal framework which seeks to protect wetlands and consequently biodiversity in Zimbabwe.

Despite the existence of legal framework seeking to protect them, Wetlands in Zimbabwe are under threat due to agricultural expansion, rapid urbanization , quarry extraction, drilling of boreholes and pollution,commercial and residential development; road construction;  resource extraction; industrial siting processes; waste; dredge and disposal. In Harare, commercial and housing construction projects are the greatest threat to wetlands.

Several cases challenging the use and development on Wetlands have passed through the courts over the years. Of note is the Harare Wetlands Trust and Newlands Residents Association v Life Covenant Church and Others

There is an increasing need to move beyond the mere existence of legal provisions, to more action in the preservation of Wetlands. There has to be enforcement of the existing legal and policy framework in the preservation of the wetlands.

What To Do?

The time has come for Zimbabwe to start building community support for Wetland management. Evidence on the ground has indicated that inefficient implementation of the existing legal framework and inter-agency inconsistences has led to the decline of Zimbabwe’s wetlands. It is now time for effective citizen participatory management of wetlands.

The effective partnership between government agencies, local communities and other stakeholders begin with an effective empowerment and capacity building of communities on wetlands, their importance and use. This entails the actual transfer of economic and political power from the few to many, and the operationalisation of community management and control of their resources.

In this decade of action, participatory wetland management is the way to go.

 Machete gangs leave one dead, several injured in ore heist

The mining sector is no longer a safe working environment and this calls for Government'swift response......Click here for more information.

 Wetlands’ ecological integrity,a major concern

Government is working on measures to ensure efficient sustainable management of wetlands and guarantee food security.Click here for more information.

Adopt legal reforms that promote transparency,Govt urged
As the government of Zimbabwe takes action to contain machete gangs who have wreaked havoc in almost every key gold producing areas in Zimbabwe, mining sector transparency reforms must not go under the policy radar. Click here for more information.





Upcoming Events

1.  2020 Alternative Mining Indaba :03rd - 05th Feb 2020

ZELA invites you to a special side session which will run under the theme, Building communities of practice on corporate accountability in the oil, gas and mining sector in Africa(4 Feb at Alternative Mining Indaba)


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Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association · 26B Seke Road, Hatfield · Harare · Zimbabwe

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