Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) Secretary General Father Cleophas Lungu says there is need for faith based organisations (FBOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) to continue the noble work of advocating for better management of natural resources for sustainable development with a great sense of hope.
He said this has he opened the 5th Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) under theme “Our Natural Resources, Our Future! Extraction for Sustainable Development" on Tuesday 21st June, 2016.
This annual even is hosted by Council of Churches in Zambia, Zambia Episcopal Conference and other civil society organizations.
Father also urged participants to always remember the wise counsel Pope Francis offers in his encyclical on the Care of our Common Home - the earth, in Laudato si', that in spite of the enormous offenses and injustices committed in the past:
“Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home… Men and women are still capable of intervening positively… All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
And Father has wondered why Zambia which is internationally recognized as a country with great mineral potential, holding 6% of known world copper reserves and other rich endowment of cobalt, gold, manganese, gemstones, emeralds and uranium the country is among the poorest in the world.
“62.8% of our population lives in in multi-dimensional poverty. Recent reports highlight the fact that seven out of ten people in Zambia live on less than two dollars a day. As of 2014, the average life expectancy in Zambia is 51.85 years” He said.
Father Lungu also noted that communities that host mineral extraction activities remain amongst the poorest in Zambia and added that apart from that, illicit financial flows in the country predominantly from the extractive sector amount to $3billion dollars annually.
“With such we cannot but say that the management and governance of the God given natural resources which are essentially the bedrock for our future, remain extremely weak” He added.
The 2016 Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) seeks to strengthen advocacy work on extractive industries and ecological debt , provide an alternative space for a number of stakeholders, especially the victims of environmental pollution and degradation, and to bring forward an alternative message through some testimonies from communities affected by mining among others.