Stakeholders have voiced their doubts about the effectiveness of existing policies and regulatory frameworks concerning biodiversity conservation and natural resource management in the country.
The stakeholders gathered for a National Stakeholders Dialogue on Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resources Management in the Lake Chilwa Basin on Thursday at Mponela in Dowa which was organized by Civil Society Network on Climate Change (CISONECC) with support from Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) and Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) through Trocaire.
Speaking during the dialogue, Boniface Chimwaza, an Environmental Officer at the Environmental Affairs Department (EAD), shed light on the numerous policies and acts supporting biodiversity conservation during his presentation on biodiversity conservation policy and regulatory frameworks.
Notably, he pointed out that the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, as the supreme law of the land, explicitly addresses biodiversity conservation.
“Malawi’s constitution which is the supreme law of the land provides for biodiversity conservation”, said Chimwaza.
Despite the presence of these biodiversity conservation instruments, the meeting attendees expressed concerns over the ongoing increase in biodiversity loss.
Dr. Daniel Sikawa, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Resources at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, emphasized the necessity for accountability mechanisms to track and evaluate the outcomes of conservation efforts. He argued that, while policies are in place, a harmonious balance between production and conservation is essential and can only be verified if stakeholders can identify what has been preserved through implemented actions.
Sikawa stressed the importance of establishing regular monitoring mechanisms to trace the conservation outcomes resulting from specific actions.
“Regular monitoring mechanisms must be put in place to track what has been conserved; and from which actions,” said Sikawa.
Speaking during the same dialogue, CISONECC National Coordinator Julius Ng’oma said the dialogue has set rolling discussions on biodiversity conservation.
According to Ng’oma, at a time when stakeholders are tackling the issue of climate change, there is a need to also intensify discussions on biodiversity conservation which requires urgent action.
Biodiversity plays a pivotal role in human well-being, the health of our planet, and global economic prosperity. Unfortunately, human activities have led to a significant reduction in biological diversity, with climate change exacerbating the problem by accelerating biodiversity loss and land degradation.
The Lake Chilwa Basin suffered extensive damage from tropical cyclone Freddy earlier this year, prompting the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) Report to call for heightened monitoring of biodiversity in fragile ecosystems and the strengthening of environmental governance capacity.