Zambia faces increasing pressure on water resources, which will pose challenges to realising the full benefits of water for the economy, environment and society, according to a study due to be launched next week by WWF Zambia and Zambian Breweries, commissioned through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD.
The Strategic Investment Pathways Report: A Case of the Zambezi River Basin, will be revealed on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.
But ahead of the official launch the two organisations flagged the worrying trends that are threatening national water resources including population growth, economic growth, climate change, increasing competition for water resources and degradation of water quality.
“Given the centrality of water resources and natural capital more broadly to Zambia’s economy, environment, livelihoods and communities, sound management of these resources is vital to promote sustainable long-term economic growth,” says the report, which was commissioned by WWF Zambia in partnership with Zambian Breweries’ parent company AB InBev to assess the policy environment for sustainable strategic investment led by the private sector with a focus on the Zambezi River Basin.
WWF Zambia Country Director, Nachilala Nkombo thanked Zambian Breweries for its support and partnership and said it remained committed to these beneficial partnerships and will work towards enhancing them. It called upon all stakeholders to come on board to protect nature-based resources.
“The environment affects the economy in so many ways and that is why there is need for sustainable management of these natural resources for long-term economic growth. As WWF, we remain committed to protecting the environment and we are thankful to Zambian Breweries for its partnership and support towards creating an enabling environment for private sector engagement on green financing targeting the Zambezi River Basin,” Nachilala Nkombo said.
Zambian Breweries Country Director Jose Moran echoed WWF’s sentiments and explained that the company was fully committed to supporting the project as part of the Water stewardship pillar of AB InBev’s vision for a better world.
“As the country’s largest brewer, we believe we have a responsibility to promote industry-led water stewardship efforts across the country. We are proud to be one of the country’s leading private sector firms in spearheading this challenge,” he said.
The study culminated in a detailed Strategic Investment Report that provides the basis for enhancing policy and an enabling environment for private sector engagement on green financing targeting the Zambezi River Basin. It determines what it takes to unlock opportunities for private sector investment in the river’s catchment area and allow commercial business to maintain their profitability while giving clear environmental returns.
Zambia is endowed with rich natural resources: minerals, forests, agricultural land, and water resources. The potential of this natural capital contributes positively to Zambia’s quest towards reaching middle-income status by 2030.
In 2014, natural capital represented 40% of Zambia’s total wealth, with renewable resources constituting 73% of this natural capital, valued at US$644 billion. However, only with improved strategic management of these resources can Zambia realise positive economic growth and sustainable development over the long-term, says the report.
Water is generally an under-valued and underpriced resource. That situation contributes to a persistent financing gap for water-related investments, globally. Better valuing water requires recognizing the full range of direct and indirect benefits and risks associated with water, which may be cultural, spiritual, economic, environmental or social. By doing so, valuing water can promote efficiency, innovation, and better policies by exposing the short- and long-term costs of pollution, waste and misallocation of the resource, facilitating investments that contribute to water development and mitigation of water-related risks, at the local, landscape or global levels.
The report makes four key recommendations to address the growing water risks and increase public and private water related investments. Specifically, it proposes that the government in Zambia works around: sequencing bankable projects in a strategic investment pathway and link to the national development , particularly the 8th national development plan currently under construction; build an existing policy framework to strengthen enabling environment for investment; capture sources of funding and explore innovative financing for water related investments and; engage private sector as a contributing partner at local and global scales.