Spotlight on biodiversity as UNDP donates face masks to help community scouts

June 3, 2020

UNDP Resident Representative, Lionel Laurens (l) handing over masks for community scouts. Receiving masks on behalf of Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection is Honourable Minister, DR. Dennis Musuku Wanchinga (r)

Messages of reversing the trend of biodiversity loss so that nature can continue to provide its services to all living things that share this planet resonated across Zambia as the country commemorated this year’s World Environment Day.

In his keynote address, Zambia’s Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, DR. Dennis Musuku Wanchinga said all living things on Earth, including human beings, are interconnected in the web of life and, as beneficiaries of a healthy nature, it is our duty to carry out the urgent work to conserve it.

“We need to address the root causes of inter-related environmental disasters and seize this opportunity to achieve a just and sustainable future,” Minister Wancinga said, imploring Zambians to take urgent action to protect the environment and stop climate disruption, biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and diseases that jump from animals to humans.

“The current biodiversity loss in Zambia can only be reversed through  concerted effort by government, private institutions, civil society organisations and individuals; putting in place measures that enhance nature’s ability to provide critical ecosystem services," said Dr. Coumba Mar Gardio, the UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia in her message for the day.

“The UN in Zambia, through a number of ongoing initiatives is committed in supporting the government. in developing innovative financing mechanisms that contribute towards the achievement of the SGDs and ensure that biodiversity is managed sustainably,” she said.

On this year’s World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5, the United Nations draws links between the health of the planet and human health, highlighting the importance of protecting biodiversity, the system that supports life.

With more than 1300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Zambia,  the country is among nations striving to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s World Environment Day brings into sharp focus the importance of fundamentally shifting humanity’s relationship with nature to preserve our societies and prevent future pandemics.

To mark the day, UNDP Resident Representative in Zambia, Lionel Laurens, presented more than 1000 face masks to the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection for use by community scouts helping to protect wildlife and their habits in the Kafue and West Lunga National Parks.

“The job of these Community Scouts is incredibly multi-faceted and diverse. They help Park Rangers to protect the national parks, the natural resources, ecosystems and wildlife within them as well as the people who visit them.” Laurens said, noting that the health and wellbeing of these scouts is key to protecting this biological richness of Zambia.