Zimbabwe makes strides to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Zimbabwe makes strides to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Zimbabwe makes strides to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Zimbabwe makes strides to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) are legally binding international conventions and treaties signed with the objective to address common environmental challenges collectively. Zimbabwe is a party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions. The commitment to fulfilling its obligations is demonstrated by its ambitious plan to mainstream biodiversity into agriculture policies and reduce the impact of pesticides. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministries responsible for Agriculture and Environment, embarked on a process to review the country’s progress and plan to accelerate the implementation of the CBD and BRS. The reviewing and planning process was done under the European Union-funded project “Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries Phase III (ACP-MEAs 3).” 

The ACP-MEAs 3 programme is a strong fit within the strategic narrative guiding the FAO Strategic Framework on transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

“In April 2021, Zimbabwe launched the ACP-MEAs 3 project to promote agricultural practices and activities that enhance the sustainability and resilience of agrobiodiversity and its associated agroecosystems. The project promotes the management of biodiversity and its ecosystems, enhancing sustainable agricultural paradigms,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative to Zimbabwe.  

Significant progress has been made two years down the line while also acknowledging challenges and lessons learned along the way. With one year of implementation remaining, the ACP-MEAs3 Project Technical Unit (PTU) convened a review and planning meeting to set the pace for a sustainable project exit strategic plan. The PTU discussed several measures to strengthen the integration of project activities into government institutions and programmes.

The PTU, co-chaired by the two Ministries responsible for Agriculture and Environment, provides project oversight and coordination to ensure effective planning, management, monitoring and evaluation of inter and intra-sectorial activities. In line with the standing provisions of the PTU, the ACP-MEAs 3 convened its first PTU meeting in 2023 to take stock of progress and plan to execute the remaining activities under the project’s four thematic areas that is, 1) Policy Development, 2) Research and Development, 3) Highly Hazardous Pesticides and 4) Farmer Field Schools.

“Zimbabwe is leading the development of an enabling policy environment to implement the MEAs in the agriculture sector. The government is drafting the overarching agrobiodiversity policy framework to mainstream biodiversity into agricultural policies and practices. Under this framework, the government is developing the agroecology promotion strategy and action plan, the animal genetic resources strategy and action plan, and mainstreaming biodiversity into the Provincial Investment Plans,” said the Thabani Siziba, PTU Co-Chair and Deputy Director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.

“To show its commitment to integrate biodiversity into agriculture, the Government of Zimbabwe with the facilitation of the ACP-MEAs 3, nominated a CBD focal point for agriculture. The PTU discussed the preparations for reviewing and updating the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans to align with the CBD’s newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework,” said Abraham Matiza, PTU Co-Chair and Deputy Director in the Ministry of Environment Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

Since its inception, the ACP-MEAs 3 project commissioned six studies to generate empirical evidence to support policy development. The project produced a Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP) shortlist after undertaking a study to identify HHPs in use and their associated risks in Zimbabwe. The PTU has developed and adopted a work plan to capacitate trainers of trainers on risk reduction and management of HHPs, and is working to develop an HHPs mitigation strategy and phase-out plan. The project has established nine Farmer Field Schools (FFS) to train farmers on crop diversity, efficient water use technologies, and fodder production and how these elements enhance crop resilience.

The meeting observed that although Zimbabwe faces multiple environmental, ecological and social challenges, the ACP-MEAs 3 project is well-positioned to provide technical assistance to enhance and improve the capacity of the country to deliver its obligations under the CBD and the BRS. Kudzai Kusena, the ACP-MEAs 3 Project Coordinator for Zimbabwe, is confident that Zimbabwe is leading and setting best standards and practices for the region to follow and enhance the integration of biodiversity into agriculture. The achievements and experiences of the ACP-MEAs 3 project in six focus countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and Zimbabwe) will be documented and scaled out as relevant to reach 25 ACP countries. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.