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Economic growth underpinned by sustainable environment, tourism and climate resilience

Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu

The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu has said the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) blueprint prioritizes a sustainable environment, tourism, and climate resilience, which anchor and underpin economic revival growth.

He made the remarks at Leopard Rock Hotel in Vumba during the ministry’s strategic planning workshop meant to enhance the implementation of programmes for the attainment of the National Vision of a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030.

“I’m honoured to address you at this Strategic Planning Workshop for the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry which comes at a time when the Government is spearheading different programmes in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

“This blueprint prioritizes sustainable environment, tourism and climate resilience, which anchor and underpin economic revival growth. This occasion presents us with an opportunity to review our Strategic Plan to enhance the implementation of our programmes for the attainment of the National Vision of a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030,” Hon Ndlovu said.

The meeting comes during the final lap of the ministry’s 3-year Strategic planning period – an opportunity to reflect on the contribution made in the last two years and how much work needs to be put in order to surpass all the targets.

It is in this Ministry that the Nation looks up to for weather and climate information, mitigation, and adaptation strategies. It is in the Ministry that the future generations place their hopes for and the environment they can live and thrive in. The Nations anticipates solutions to the human-wildlife conflict that has reached alarming levels.

It is in the Ministry that the whole world expects to get an appreciation of what and who Zimbabwe is, for them to want to visit. Tourism is one of the critical sectors of the economy with great potential to turn around the economy. It is a low-hanging fruit characterised by foreign currency earnings, employment creation, and community empowerment.

There is a target to achieve a US$5 Billion Tourism Economy by 2025.

The National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy compels the need to assess targets, strategies, and the identification of areas that need more emphasis to meet and possibly surpass the initial targets. Tracking performance is critical, hence the need to know where the ministry is falling short and work with all stakeholders to institute remedial measures. This, therefore, calls for a quarterly review of the performance of the strategy to ensure set targets are met, as identified.

The Minister said the Tourism Sector is now on a growth trajectory due to the relaxation of COVID-19-induced travel restrictions and lockdowns, and the opening of doors for both domestic and international travel.

During the first half of 2022, the Tourism Sector registered a 115% rise in tourist arrivals to 352,719, compared with the same period in 2021 when the international arrivals received were 164,062. The tourist receipts also increased by 121% in 2022 to US$337.5 million compared to US$152.8 million in 2021. Domestic entries into national parks rose by 90% from 90,909 in 2021 to 172,481 during the period January to May 2022. A 79% increase in new investments was also registered this year, with a total of US$96.5 million recorded.

In addition to the encouraging performance of the Tourism Sector, the ministry also witnessed a number of milestones, which include, just to mention a few:

 

  • The launch of the first-ever Tourism Satellite Account was developed following the UNWTO framework and guidelines.
  • The launch of the Braille Inclusive Tourism, a new Tourism Product gives persons with visual impairment a chance to experience tourism products and services.
  • The successful hosting of the First Lady’s 2022 Traditional Cookout Competitions and launching her Cookout Book, with a variety of traditional cuisine recipes.
  • Promoted Destination Zimbabwe through the ZimBho Campaign Programme targeting the Domestic Tourism market, Visit Zimbabwe Campaign, and Meet-In-Zimbabwe Campaign, targeting international tourism and business markets (MICE), respectively.
  • Successful participation at the 2020 Dubai Expo, where Zimbabwe competed on a global scale to showcase what we can offer as an investment destination. Resulting in attracting possible investors in the Tourism Sector.
  • Enhanced destination accessibility where airlines introduced new air routes to Zimbabwe. These included Airlink, Eurowings, RwandaAir, Emirates, and Ethiopian, among others.
  • Post Covid-19 Impact Assessment, to determine the impact of the pandemic to the Tourism Sector, with results expected before year-end.
  • Hosted the Zimbabwe Tourism Innovation Challenge across the country. A programme that promotes and supports ideas of young innovators with potential to transform Zimbabwe’s Tourism Sector, as well as involving youths in mainstream tourism.
  • Rendered support for Community Based Tourism Enterprises through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, through technical assistance and capacity building training programmes.

The life-span of the National Tourism Policy which was developed in 2013 has now come to an end. There is an urgent need to review the Policy in line with the current trends and prevailing environment. There is a need to expedite the process through a consultative approach, to ensure we capture the varied ideas from relevant stakeholders to further a Whole of Government approach agenda.

The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) specifically provides for ensuring sustainable environmental protection and resilience, as a cross-cutting issue.

The ministry managed to make significant strides in ensuring that environmental policies and legal frameworks were updated. Suffice it to point out that it is still to complete some of these frameworks.

 

The Forest Policy and the Wildlife Policy, are now ready for presentation to Cabinet. The Human-Wildlife Conflict Strategies, the CAMPFIRE policy, and the National Environment Action Plan should be expedited and completed. Work should also begin on reviewing and updating the National Environmental Policy and Strategies document and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Policy and Act.

The issues of broader Biodiversity Economy and Natural Capital Accounting are increasingly becoming important decision-making tools, for both Governments and the private sector. This will also assist in enhancing National Accounts to reflect true values in the economy. The Ministry will spearhead the process and ensure that Natural Capital Accounting becomes an important component of National Accounts.

With support from the African Wildlife Foundation, the ministry commissioned a Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy study, on the 15th of June 2021 and the framework is now available. The commissioning of the study was in recognition of the key role of nature in Zimbabwe’s economic development and will, therefore, provide a foundation to harness opportunities and long-term growth of a biodiversity economy, including harnessing investments in this critical economic asset, in pursuit of attaining Vision 2030.

The minister said tree planting and existing woodlands management will be intensified to address deforestation challenges. He said the current blitz on illegal firewood dealers should be intensified to send a clear message about the thrust to save forests. Our three key afforestation programmes should receive our utmost attention; the beautification of cities, the intensive rural afforestation programme and the Tobacco Wood Energy Programme (TWEP).

The minister is keen to see the reinvigoration of the Zero Tolerance to Litter drive, where every citizen is expected to participate in order to regain the yesteryear glamour of the towns and cities. Discipline, reducing, reusing, and recycling waste is, indeed, the solution to waste management challenges as it reduces the burden on local authorities and at the same time leads to the creation of green jobs. There is a need to close the loophole in legislation to make sure there are stiff penalties for litter offenders.

 

The ministry finalized the principles for a new Parks and Wildlife Management Act. The proposed new Act will assist in addressing various challenges in this sector as well as empower Zimparks towards a more sustainable and resilient institution. There is a need to find a lasting solution to Human-Wildlife Conflict.

Community benefits under the new CAMPFIRE frameworks should be enhanced. Key Multilateral Environmental Agreements require the ministry to meet its obligations by way of reporting and taking certain actions within specified periods. Let’s make sure all is done as required.

There are preparations for conferences such as the CITES CoP, CBD CoP, and UNFCCC CoP, and there is a need for stakeholders to work together as Team Zimbabwe to protect the national interest and achieve the ministry’s vision.

The ministry is receiving remarkable support from international cooperating partners in environment, climate, and tourism programmes. Zimbabwe has been allocated US$13,2 million from the Global Environmental Facility 8th cycle and this is in addition to substantial amounts in the previous cycles. These resources have been used in various landscapes across the country, to address environmental and livelihood issues. The thrust now with the GEF 8th cycle is to ensure we build a stronger and sustainable Biodiversity Economy in Zimbabwe and in doing so, ensure that we meet our national and international environmental obligations and aspirations.

The Government, through the Ministry, is prioritising national actions that build adaptive capacity; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; strengthen climate change education and public awareness; and contribute to sustainable development. Time and resources have been invested in national adaptation planning, to guide the response towards enhancing climate change adaptation across the country.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende