Ready for a new dawn: Our land, our future and our destiny says Zambia

We have been planning steadily for the “D-day”---getting ready for the start of the workshop. We set the workshop place set for the first day and organise a dry run of some of the presentations. So far all is well. I am quite anxious to get everything ready, sometimes pushing the team to their limits. They have come to accept this and always make fun of me. Our team is excited, motivated and expectant—always interspersing our work with fun. And oh, before I forget, Simone is great. He actually went looking for flowers for Soledad, Siv and I on women’s day. We take a great picture together. A reminder of our own solidarity. A reminder of the role women play in development processes. So we are all set for the next day and we go to bed after the preparatory work.

I wake up perhaps before 4am the following day. My eyes pop open and I can’t sleep anymore. Waking up at dawn can bring some great feelings—at least--- if you look at the symbolism it brings. The dawn signifies a new beginning and freshness. So perhaps it is a new dawn to the first day of the workshop brings---a new dawn as we set off to the development of the integrated financing strategy.

We are off to a great start but with a hiccup

We are all set and participants are already flocking into the meeting room. It’s a good feeling. We start off with the usual courtesies and awaiting the formal opening of the workshop. We are told the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) is on his way and so is the senior Government official. At exactly 9am the RC arrives and we are happy. The RC has been great in supporting the work on sustainable land management. Great leadership from the RC and a boost to our journey.

So the media arrives including the national television. The Government Representative is not in and we are getting a bit nervous. After sometime, I get a tap on my shoulder from a colleague from the Ministry----the senior Government official is unable to make it he says---she is sending a representative. We are disappointed. but learn some lessons from this. It is always good to keep a realistic expectation, you can never be sure when it comes to politicians-a UN colleague say tells me. The formal opening is delayed but the workshop goes ahead without it. Finally, the official opening starts past mid-day and we go through the protocol that comes with it. Simone is the winner at the end of day. He is captured on national TV. He is immaculately dressed as he delivers the statement of the MD of the Global Mechanism.

There is a common thread in the statements from the RC, GM, UNDP and the Government. Sustainable land management is an imperative and investments must be made into it. The Integrated Financing Strategy is embraced as a unique opportunity for the country.

Getting ready for the technical session

We start off the more technical session by setting the stage. And then focus on some background discussion on the sustainable land management challenges in Zambia, the opportunities and to address these, and some future direction on where the country is going. This discussion is healthy and participants contribute significantly to enrich the debate. Some key issues are raised: land tenure, lack of robust regulatory and legal frameworks to address deforestation, lack of an investment framework on sustainable land management are some of the causes of land degradation. Any meaningful financing strategy will need to take these issues into consideration. It must address bottlenecks to financial resource mobilization at all levels including, policy, institutional, regulatory, and legal issues.

Furthermore, there is a call for a robust sustainable land management investment framework that will define investment priorities and areas that will be aligned to the Integrated Financing Strategies. There is a general consensus for an assessment of the value of sustainable land management and the costs of land degradation in Zambia. Here, the emphasis is on generating evidence to support sustainable land management policies and investments, based on demonstrating their existing and potential contribution to national development, poverty reduction and wealth creation.

We later introduce the concept, objectives and expected outcome of the Integrated Financing Strategy. There is a very positive response to it, and inarguably, there is a general consensus that there is a need for increased finance. Interestingly, the discussions tilt towards the need to tap into domestic financial resources namely: taxes, domestic savings, pension funds etc and how these may utilized for sustainable land management.

Weaving Knowledge sharing tools into the workshop

This is a unique experience and exciting. It’s time to apply knowledge sharing tools. I promised myself to do this and kudos to Roxy and team for all the training. I flip through my documents on knowledge sharing tools to make sure I get everything on my finger tips. We apply two of the knowledge sharing tools: name tagging (ice breaker) and the world café. Ice breaker was great. We adapt it and get people to crack jokes and tell a bit of stories about themselves. A great way of getting to know each others.

We named our café a discovery café. The participants love it and provide some very positive feed back. It is re-invigorating, experiential, refreshing and a relaxing, they say. Well, it is time to go now. Hopefully, we can post the subsequent blogs in a timely manner.

(Sorry for the late posting! - we had a power cut.)