Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is a public interest environmental law organisation that works to promote environmental justice in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. Its main objective is to help poor and disadvantaged natural resources dependent communities to participate effectively in environmental governance by defining, asserting and enforcing their environmental rights. It is estimated that about 70% of Zimbabweans live in the rural areas and are dependent on the primary extraction of natural resources for their livelihoods. It therefore follows that natural resources governance is critical to sustainable development, human welfare, good governance and enfranchisement of rural communities.
ZELA’s work is centred on ensuring that the various environmental laws, policies and the resultant institutional frameworks result in the empowerment of natural resources dependent communities to enable them to participate meaningfully and effectively in environmental governance. To achieve its objectives, ZELA uses a number of strategies. These include research, advocacy and litigation.
1. The specific programme that is aimed at linking poverty and conservation goals is Transboundary Natural Resources Management (TBNRM). Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), which fall under the TBNRM programme, are viewed as having the potential to make a significant contribution to socio-economic development in southern Africa through the sustainable consumptive use of wild animals and plants. Proponents and advocates of TBNRM processes and TFCAs initiatives in southern Africa have postulated rural communities living adjacent to conservation areas as one of the main determinants of the success of such initiatives and thus they should be potential beneficiaries along with the state and the private sector. This assertion is reflected in the various Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), treaties, policies and agreements establishing transfrontier conservation initiatives in the region.
2. ZELA is currently implementing a project titled “Promoting community engagement in the proposed Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia (ZIMOZA) regional transfrontier conservation area for improved livelihoods”. This is a project that is being implemented by ZELA (Zimbabwe) in collaboration with Africa Wildlife Foundation (Zambia) and Centro Terra Viva (Mozambique). The main aim of the project is to empower communities to participate effectively in the ZIMOZA TFCA to promote their focus on poverty reduction based on sustainable use of natural resources. Activities include the development of legal and policy tools for civil society engagement in TFCA design and engagement raise awareness and build community capacity to effectively participate in TFCA design, and in community-public-private partnerships (CPPs) and support development, implementation and marketing of natural resources enterprises in the ZIMOZA TFCA based on CPPs.