Coming off the week of the widely published Glasgow COP26 Summit attendance by the Zambian
Republican President and the ground-breaking Green Growth Compact with the U.K worth up to £ 1 Billion for Zambia, it’s obvious the shining gloss on the newly created Ministry of Green Economy and Environment and the general discourse on climate change is here to stay.
COP 26 is the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), the supreme decision-making body
of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The COP meets annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
The Green Growth Compact with the UK will enhance the programme to green Zambia’s economy as it provides the framework for collaborating with UK institutions that are researching and innovating in renewable energy. Supported by the CDC Group, Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), British Chamber of Commerce in Zambia, UK Export Finance and the International Growth Centre (IGC) of the London School of Economics inter alia, the Compact has a cool £ 100 Million demarcated for supporting small and medium enterprises in green initiatives.
Considering these topical events and in view of the government’s serious commitment towards the green economy, kick-started by establishing the Ministry of Green Economy and the Environment as a stand- alone Ministry for the first time in the country, it becomes prudent for various stakeholders, including lawyers, to support small and medium enterprises (SME’s) in capacity building to meaningfully contribute to the green economy. Here, we highlight some laws which may present opportunities for the SME sector in that regard. But first, let us define ‘green economy’ so that we are on the same page.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines as a green economy as one with low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. In a green economy, growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
For Zambian SME’s, the following three areas may unlock their potential to contribute to ‘greening the economy”
- Renewable Energy: Though the country is yet to enact one specific legislation to regulate and promote renewable energy initiatives, this sector is a key driver of the green economy agenda. Renewable energy is defined as energy which can be obtained from natural resources that can be constantly replenished, like wind and sunshine. Typical examples include biomass, wind energy, solar energy and geothermal energy. Currently, the enabling legislation for the sector includes the Energy Regulation Act, Cap 436; the Electricity Act, Cap 433; the Petroleum Act, Cap 435; and the Energy Regulation (Licensing Regulations), Statutory Instrument No. 2 of 1998. Any SME player in this space or intending to operate in this space will be strategically positioned to contribute to the green economy.
- The Forests Act, 2015: This foremost legislation on climate changes and provides for the establishment and declaration of National Forests, Local Forests, joint forest management areas, botanical reserves, private forests and community forests; provides for the participation of local communities, local authorities, traditional institutions, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in sustainable forest management; provide for the conservation and use of forests and trees for the sustainable management of forests ecosystems and biological diversity; establishes the Forest Development Fund; and provides for the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Water Fowl Habitat, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa and any other relevant international agreement to which Zambia is a party. SMEs working or intending to work in the space regulated by the Forests Act have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the green economy.
- The Environmental Management Act, 2011. This is an equally critical ‘greening’ legislative tool through which SMEs can play their part. The Act provides for continuation of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency; provides for integrated environmental management and the protection and conservation of the environment and the sustainable management and use of natural resources; provides for the preparation of the State of the Environment Report, environmental management strategies and other plans for environmental management and sustainable development; provides for the conduct of strategic environmental assessments of proposed policies, plans and programs likely to have an impact on environmental management; provides for the prevention and control of pollution and environmental degradation; provides for public participation in environmental decision making and access to environmental information; establishes the Environment Fund; provides for environmental audit and monitoring; and facilitates the implementation of international environmental agreements and conventions to which Zambia is a party. Specific areas of pollution control under the Act includes water pollution, air pollution, waste management, pesticides and toxic substances, ionizing radiation as well as noise pollution. SME initiatives with a demonstrated capacity to contribute to any form of environmental management should be the ‘darlings’ of the greens.
SME’s in the above three areas or intending to operate in the same possess the greatest potency in the green economy discourse. Government should equally focus its legal, institutional and policy interventions in the said areas to move the green economy agenda forward.
Support from various stakeholders, and not just financial but even from private sector enablers like lawyers and law firms, will be critical in positioning SME’s to tap into the potential lying ahead in green economy. We are, are you ready for a green economy?
Client Legal Alert – Equitas Legal Practitioners@2020
*This scholarly article is a general guide and does not contain definitive legal advice. Readers considering taking action on any of the issues discussed should speak to their legal advisors before taking any such action. Equitas disclaims any liability whatsoever arising from acting on this article.