Tuesday, 10 April 2012


By Kanni Wignaraja  and Georgina Fekete
Twenty years ago, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, world leaders agreed that the future they wanted was one that “meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  Twenty years on, world leaders meet once again in Rio to take stock of the results under the theme, “The Future We Want”. The global figures on poverty show that more of the poor are moving out of abject poverty – per capita GDP has increased by 80% - and the world as a whole has met its MDG 1 target of halving poverty by extending basic services to many more, well before the 2015 deadline. There has also been some progress on repairing the ozone layer and extending protected areas. But much of this is triggered by what is happening in China. We cannot be complacent about global averages that mask growing disparities in many parts of the world. The world we live in today is very different from 20 years ago; 7 billion people on
 the planet demand more land, water and air but the planet hasn’t grown in size.  High food prices and repeated economic crises have pushed an additional 115 million people into poverty and hunger. Negative impacts of climate change continue to jeopardize development gains.  In 2010 alone, 373 natural disasters affected some 208 million people, causing 300,000 deaths, and producing economic losses estimated at US$110 billion. And our ecosystems are still at risk – 40% of the world’s land is degraded and 3% of global forests have been lost. Growing inequities and injustice have turned seeming political stability into chaos and conflicts. The world can no longer carry unsustainable and unjust economic, environmental and social choices without burning up.  With the shifting geopolitical scene, like-minded country clusters and influential world leaders are making their positions heard. Zambia can and must be a part of the voice and positions that looks
 to a more sustainable, stable world. So how does it influence ‘the Future We Want’, from Zambia at Rio+20?
Sustainability of a greener, cleaner climate resilient economy is about choices that a country and its people make to improve their lives today, , without destroying options for tomorrow’s generation. This impacts the three pillars of sustainability - the economic, social and environmental. Planning for an economy that benefits from copper but is not copper dependent is key to the first pillar of economic sustainability. To manage a country’s mineral wealth wisely and to look beyond copper, more indepth geological mapping is needed to know exactly what, how much and where valuable mineral deposits are located, as well as their carbon content. But there is no country in the world that has significantly reduced poverty and inequity by solely focusing on mineral wealth.  To create wealth and jobs more broadly, it is a big-push in agriculture and sustainable tourism that lends two sturdy legs to an otherwise wobbly one-legged stool. And if exports of
 Zambia’s commodities in all these fields are to be increasingly competitive and “green”, much work needs to go into supporting the resulting value-chains, including standards and certification.
On the second pillar of environmental sustainability - old data on forest cover and deforestation does not help policy makers and communities make the pragmatic choices on the interventions needed to manage Zambia’s forest wealth and value the carbon stock in its trees. The private sector, if enabled, and communities, if empowered, can together manage and responsibly utilize forests as a part of Zambia’s current and future wealth. However, for such a system to work, local councils must play their role with more devolved authority and accountability, to oversee and implement the laws of the land.
While still on the second pillar, we know Zambia sits on 40% of SADC’s water resources. How does this translate into affordable access to clean water, electricity and sanitation for all? Today, this is one of the MDG targets that Zambia is furthest away from reaching by 2015.  Accelerating progress would mean a significant investment in new water, energy and sanitation infrastructure and technology. New infrastructure investment in hydro and solar power would propel Zambia into a renewable energy hub in the sub-region that brings light and heat to all in the country, with excess to spare for export. New infrastructure is also job creating and if the right choices are made these will be green jobs.
All this is easier said than done. The pie isn’t infinite. And hard choices have to be made on where to prioritize and spend. It is often cheaper and faster in the short run to keep things as they are, to provide a quick-win hand-out or to repair, whether it is sewage pipe, a school roof or an economy. It takes a more courageous leap by more than just one or two, to make the bolder longer term choices and investment that will transform the country to a different future. It takes a social movement. And that is why it is the third pillar of social sustainability that defines and determines all. Sustainable development choices are often not the easy ones to make, and it takes a nation pulling in the same direction to choose the path less trodden. It means putting a country’s interest over the individual or a single community’s gain. As Dag Hammarskjold reminded us “Only in the true surrender in the interest of all can we reach that strength and
 independence, that unity of purpose, that equity of judgment, which are necessary if we are to measure up to our duty to the future, as (people) of a generation to whom the chance was given to build, in time, a world of peace.” So as Zambia looks to Rio + 20, let us all go for the future we want – we have only one country, and one world.
Kanni Wignaraja is UN Resident Coordinator  while Georgina Fekete UNDP Deputy Country Director for Programme


  1. well I thought about visiting this destination cause some relatives traveled to Zambia a couple of years ago, and they also said worth every peny.

    Top Attractions in Portsmouth New Hampshire

  2. World tourism have great part in Pakistan specially northern areas of Pakistan is famous for it height and cold weather i suggest you to get cheap flights to pakistan and explore new world beyond you mindset.