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AWF Holds Inception Meeting for Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy Report

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The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI) convened an inception meeting to discuss the development of a report on the status of the biodiversity economy in Zimbabwe. The meeting held on September 28, 2021 in Harare, Zimbabwe was open to stakeholders from across the board, including media, government, private sector, development partners, and civil society organizations.

Participants discussed the most salient issues facing the biodiversity economy in Zimbabwe, with a deep dive into a biodiversity economy inception report prepared specially for the meeting, which will guide the process of how the actual study will be conducted, its key deliverables, and timelines.

“AWF was approached by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry following a request from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to develop the report as a tool to inform policies around maximizing the country’s inclusive wealth and maintaining the long-term sustainability of its biological resource base. Obtaining optimal value from the biodiversity economy will also necessitate reducing society’s unsustainable dependence on natural resources,” said Olivia Mufute, AWF Country Director for Zimbabwe.

The study will culminate in the publishing of the first-ever State of the Biodiversity Economy in Zimbabwe, including a framework for natural capital accounting and a blueprint for leveraging key investment opportunities in the biodiversity economy. It will be carried out by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in collaboration with Anchor Environmental Consultants. The consulting team will be supported by a technical committee composed of local experts in various fields of relevance to the biodiversity economy.

“We hope that this study might stimulate interest in the biodiversity economy among various stakeholders with an interest and/or influence over the status of the biodiversity economy. For example, the government is set to benefit from the report by gaining a clearer understanding of the contribution of biodiversity to the economy and its broader importance for livelihoods. This will, in turn, inform smart policy decisions on natural resources management,” said Mufute. She added that the study will also help highlight ways in which biodiversity can be used to sustain and drive growth and development, particularly in impoverished rural areas which provide the main reservoirs for biodiversity in the country.

African countries are increasingly turning to biodiversity as a key contributor to their GDP as sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity loss take center stage in the developmental agendas of many economies. A recent report by the World Economic Forum found that over half of the global GDP (USD $44 trillion) relies on nature.

Successful biodiversity economies would not only provide much-needed revenues for households and governments, but they will also act as an incentive for increased participation in and funding for conservation. Healthy biodiversity has numerous economic benefits including food security, development of pharmaceutical products, tourism, climate regulation, soil nutrient recycling, diseases, and pest control.