Parliamentary Workshop on Environment, Climate, and Tourism Kicks Off in Mutare

Mutare, Zimbabwe – A crucial induction and capacity-building workshop commenced at the Golden Peacock Hotel in Mutare, running from June 20th to 23rd, 2024. The event aims to enhance the skills and knowledge of members of the Committee on Environment, Climate, and Tourism, as well as the Thematic Committee on Climate Change.

Hon. Advocate Jacob Francis Nzwidamilimo Mudenda, Speaker of Parliament, highlighted the critical role these committees play in overseeing the Ministries of Environment, Climate and Wildlife, and Tourism and Hospitality Industries. He emphasized the importance of developing and implementing robust climate change policies across all sectors of the economy.

Mudenda reminded attendees of their constitutional duties, citing sections 117 and 119 of the Constitution, which outline Parliament’s legislative authority and its role in promoting democratic governance. He stressed the necessity of ensuring that all government actions are constitutional and in the national interest.

The Speaker explained that Parliamentary Select Committees are tasked with examining government expenditure, administration, and policies. They are responsible for holding government ministries accountable, ensuring efficient and effective execution of their mandates. This includes scrutinizing financial reports to guarantee prudent management of public funds.

Mudenda highlighted the severe impacts of climate change, referencing global events such as droughts in India, Cyclone Idai in Africa, and the 2022 Pakistan floods. He noted that these events significantly affect food and water security, health, eco-tourism, and infrastructure. The committees were urged to focus on preserving the environment to mitigate these effects.

The workshop underscored the economic significance of tourism, particularly nature-based tourism, which contributed US$878 million to Zimbabwe’s economy in 2019. The tourism sector is crucial for national employment and GDP, with significant revenue growth post-pandemic. The committees were encouraged to enhance disaster risk reduction and emergency response capabilities to protect this vital sector from climate-related disasters.

Participants were briefed on key pieces of climate change legislation, including the Environmental Management Act and the Forest Act. Mudenda called for collaboration with other committees to review and expedite important bills such as the Climate Change Bill, which aims to consolidate climate-related laws and promote sustainable development.

The Speaker praised government initiatives like the dam construction program and the issuance of green bonds to fund sustainable energy projects. He also urged the committees to ensure adherence to international agreements on climate action, such as the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Advocating for the use of digital technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, in climate action and environmental management, Mudenda highlighted that AI can enhance predictive modeling of climate-related disasters, providing early warnings and improving public awareness.

The workshop aims to equip committee members with the necessary tools to fulfill their mandates effectively, ensuring that Zimbabwe can tackle climate challenges and promote sustainable development.

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