In January 2017, the Government of the Republic of Zambia submitted a formal expression of interest (EOI) to join the WAVES Program. The country is intent on promoting sustainable development by ensuring that natural resources are mainstreamed in development planning and national economic accounts. Zambia is the first country to be adopted as a core implementing country (CIC) in this second phase of the WAVES Program, known as WAVES+. In this capacity, Zambia will be able to benefit from the experience of the current eight WAVES countries.
According to the Government's EOI, "natural capital that includes ecosystem services such as provision of clean water, sediment retention and erosion control, eco-tourism, pollination services and carbon storage, are not explicitly recognized in national accounts at all. This is a misnomer because natural capital is a critical asset, especially for developing countries like Zambia where it makes up a significant share (36%) of total wealth."
A project identification mission took place from February 20-24, 2017 to discuss possible future activities with stakeholders. The consultation provided an opportunity to share knowledge about other WAVES countries, notably Botswana and Rwanda; to select the types of accounts Zambia will focus on; and to identify priority actions under the program. The mission also enhanced collaboration across departments and paved the way for an effective coordination mechanism and working groups.
About 25 representatives from 18 government agencies and other organizations participated in the workshop. Participants examined key questions and operational challenges, including issues related to policy and planning, institutions and capacity, data availability, and technical feasibility. Through this process, participants were able to identify which policy area accounts should be prioritized during the first year of Zambia-WAVES.
Out of the six priority natural resources identified in the Government's EOI, three primary accounts were designated:
- Land accounts, with a focus on changes in land cover including forests, wetlands and agricultural lands;
- Water accounts, including water supply, use and quality; and
- Forest accounts, including production of timber and non-timber forest products
These accounts will be used to inform issues like deforestation, land use planning, and water allocation. There was a remarkable consensus among the working groups on the importance of starting with these three areas.
In addition, a number of significant agreements were reached, and actions to be undertaken by both the Government and the World Bank were identified. A National Coordinator, Project Management Officer and Communication Specialist are in the process of being hired, while focal persons are being identified for the three Technical Working Groups (Land, Water and Forests). The detailed Action Plan developed during the consultations will be implemented this year.
As Stig Johansson, WAVES Program Manager, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome Zambia to the WAVES Partnership. The Government of Zambia is very interested in having a better understanding of how natural capital - water, forest, minerals and ecosystems - interact with the economy and contribute to the country’s progress and wealth. The Government's dedication and clearly formulated objectives are critical preconditions for a successful natural capital accounting program, and we look forward to supporting these efforts."