Since its independence in 1964, Zambia’s stability and huge reserves of copper ore have attracted massive investment, making the economy one of the fastest growing in Africa. However, this growth has done little to improve the lives of the majority of Zambians . Zambia continues to struggle to translate its economic growth into poverty eradication and reduction of inequalities, and poverty is increasing in absolute and relative terms . Inequality and unemployment are rife, especially among women and youth. And many of the growth industries – such as mining and construction – are taking a heavy toll on the environment .
Additionally, climate change in Zambia is projected to increase the frequency and severity of droughts and floods (disasters). This will negatively impact the country’s economic growth as the economy is heavily reliant on natural resources, which are highly sensitive to changes in weather and climatic conditions. For instance, projected climate changes will negatively impact hydropower and agriculture production .
Key policies and governance approach
Zambia’s overarching framework for sustainable development is the Vision 2030 , which is implemented through 5-year medium term National Development Plans. Zambia is currently implementing its Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) which runs from 2017 to 2021, supported by sectoral policies, strategies and programmes . The goal of the 7NDP is to create a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and socio-economic transformation . The 7NDP has mainstreamed climate change as an overarching guidance to promote social wellbeing, including better health, growth of the economy and at the same time reduce environmental risks, such as shortage of water, air pollution and other effects .
Policies that integrate sustainable consumption and production elements in Zambia include the Second National Agriculture Policy (2016), the National Energy Policy (2019), the National Forestry Policy (2015) and the National Water Policy (2010) , . Zambia has also developed various climate change-related policies, strategies, projects and programs in response to climate change impacts .
The country is yet to enact one specific legislation to regulate and promote renewable energy initiatives, which will be a key driver of the green economy agenda. Though enabling legislation for the sector in Zambia includes the Energy Regulation Act, Cap 436; the Electricity Act, Cap 433; the Petroleum Act, Cap 435; and the Energy Regulation (Licensing Regulations) .
In Zambia, the creation of the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment is a clear demonstration of the political will to create a strong base for wealth generation, employment creation and poverty reduction through sustainable extraction and trade in key sectors such as forestry .
Several green growth initiatives have been undertaken in Zambia, including the launching of the Zambia Green Building Association (ZGBA) and the Zambian Green Jobs Programme . The Zambia Green Jobs Programme – a four-year partnership between the Zambian Government and a team of United Nations agencies led by the ILO, and funded by Finland – promoted the development of sustainable enterprises by boosting competitiveness and business growth thanks to green technologies. It worked with local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and partners with multinational companies that are investing in Zambia .
SUCCESSES AND REMAINING CHALLENGES
Zambia has made significant efforts in implementing international environmental commitments as well as national environmental policies, legislation and strategies and has made progress towards the attainment of sustainable development. However, this effort has not been completely successful at times due to a number of constraints.
Major constraints in the implementation of the three Rio Conventions – on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification – include inadequate financial resources, insufficient technical expertise and lack of harmony in existing environment related policies and legislation leading to implementation and legal enforcement failures. Another constraint is inadequate information and environmental management awareness among members of the general public as well as insufficient information for effective planning. Other challenges in Zambia include lack of renewable alternative sources of energy to reduce dependency on forest resources as the main source of household energy, inadequate awareness about sustainable agricultural practices and limited participation of local communities in the management of natural resources in their areas, among others .
Initiatives and Development Plans
The UK and Zambia signed a new landmark partnership to drive sustainable economic growth and build on the momentum created by the historic COP26 climate summit. The Green Growth Compact sets targets for delivering billions of pounds of new investment, doubling trade volumes between the two countries, and channelling over £100m of new financial resources to small and medium sized enterprises. It will strengthen coordination between the entire UK business community and the Zambian Government, as well as opening up financing opportunities for Zambian businesses. It provides the framework for collaboration with UK institutions that are researching and innovating in renewable energy, urban planning, trade connectivity and more .
Zambia has also reaffirmed its commitment to join the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in the country’s efforts to combat climate change .
- Investing in clean energy leads not only to improved energy security and greater environmental and public health, but research confirms additional near-term benefits of cleaner technology and associated investment opportunities create the fastest job opportunities.
- Vocational training packages should be developed with focus on greening various sectors.
- The education system also needs to be reviewed to integrate environmental and social considerations in the various disciplines. An example of such a consideration was the designing and implementation of a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Education at the University of Zambia, with the aim to provide environmental knowledge, skills and values to personnel serving or intending to join institutions which deal with the environment, to promote green skills in these institutions and among communities.
- There is need to restrict use of charcoal and provide support in connecting all un-electrified households in urban areas and increase the rate of electrification in rural areas. The increasing electricity generating capacity Zambia is experiencing will help to sustain the likely increase in demand due to electrification.
- There is need to stimulate research and development in Renewable Energy Technologies. The research should be centred on development of appropriate and affordable Renewable Energy Technologies for rural areas.
- In addition, collaboration between researchers, policy makers and planners should be strengthened for the common purpose of promoting renewable energy technology. This will reduce deforestation and pressure on hydroelectric power.
- Zambia should enhance its preparedness to access and organise funds from domestic and international sources.
- Domestic and international financing should be used to catalyse and leverage private sector investment in addressing the challenges to achieving a green economy. Zambia has a wide range of renewable energy sources (solar, hydropower, biomass, wind, geothermal and energy crops) with great potential.
- Increase funding to afforestation and reforestation programmes including provisions of incentives to attract private sector investment in the mitigation initiatives.
 Ben Martin, green economy coalition (2017). Building new green jobs in Zambia. [Online]. Available: https://www.greeneconomycoalition.org/news-and-resources/building-new-green-jobs-in-zambia.
 allAfrica (2021). Zambia: 'New Dawn' Green Economy Drive Timely. [Online]. Available: https://allafrica.com/stories/202110040727.html.
 International Labour Organization (2021). How Zambia is greening its way out of poverty. [Online]. Available: https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/multimedia/features/zambia/lang--en/index.htm.
 GOV.UK (2021). Green Growth Compact agreement between the UK and Zambia. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-growth-compact-agreement-between-the-uk-and-zambia.
 CGTN AFRICA (2021). Zambia set to join global green growth body. [Online]. Available: https://africa.cgtn.com/2021/11/11/zambia-set-to-join-global-green-growth-body/.