The Finnish Government has granted eight Zambian Civil Society Orgarnisations €74,000 to enhance the role of CSOs in implementing sound environmental management projects; promote sustainable and equitable development in Zambia.

The grant which has been made under a Finland funded project called Civil Society Environmental Fund phase two (CSEF 2), is aimed at addressing the needs of CSOs in the environmental sector and to provide support for the implementation of activities that complement government’s efforts in sustaining the Zambia’s natural resources.

Speaking during the signing ceremony at his residence, Thursday, Finish Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen said that grant, which is equivalent to K888,000, would assist in implementing various activities to meet the overall goal of CSEF 2.

“The eight civil society organisations applied for funding under the category of events, emergency and dissemination grants. These grants are less than 10,000 euro each. However, they will assist in in implementing various actions that meet the overall goal of CSEF 2. these are the last grants to be signed under the CSEF 2 project which ends in February, 2019. The second phase of the Civil Society Environmental Fund started in 2015 and has been supporting the implementation of activities that complement the efforts of government to sustain the rich natural resources and environment of this country, towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Ambassador Olkkonen said.

Ambassador Olkkonen said Finland’s new development policy prioritised sustainability of natural resources, among other things.

“I wish to inform this gathering also that Finland’s new development policy for 2016-2020 which articulates priorities for Finland’s new government that came into power in 2015. Finland’s development policy and development cooperation is guided by the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, endorsed with the UN. The new development policy has special focus on priority areas which are: rights and status of women and girls; improving the economies of developing countries to ensure more jobs, livelihood and wellbeing; democratic and better-functioning societies; food security and better access to water, energy and the sustainability of natural resources. I wish to point out that the CSEF 2 captures these priority areas beyond sustainability of natural resources,” said Ambassador Olkkonen.

“The eight projects that have been funded will focus on addressing deforestation through education, policy advocacy, alternative livelihoods and encouragement of community forestry management. The projects will also engage in climate change adaptation through the promotion of climate smart agriculture, and research on women’s indigenous knowledge around climate adaptation; the project will also focus on environmental awareness among children and youths; research and advocacy on the environmental and social economic impact of mining activities. From these projects, important elements in the current Finnish development policy and Zambia’s 7NDP standout. Women, children and young people and encouraging their role in environmental stewardship which is important for sustainability of the environmental and natural resources.”

And Ambassador Olkkonen encouraged the beneficiaries to network amongst themselves in order to succeed in the implementation of their projects.

The eight organisations that have benefitted from the CSEF 2 project are: Chilanga Youth Awake from Lusaka Province; Sustainable Agriculture Programme from Copperbelt Province; Save the Environment Organisation from Copperbelt Province; Vision Africa Regional Network from Central Province; Women and Resources Eastern and Southern Africa from Southern Province; Youth Emerging Farmers Initiative from Northern and Luapula Provinces; Zambia Institute of Environmental Management from North Western Province; and Hantambo Womens Organisation from Southern Province.

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of all participants, Sustainable Agriculture Programme director for programmes Mpenza Mwanza expressed confidence that their organisations would implement their plans successfully and find value in creating linkages and sharing information as beneficiaries.

“We are here because we are very important in the operational life of the organisations. Having gone through the due diligence process through the plans we had set out to do. I would like to urge my fellow beneficiaries to stick to the plans we submitted. We are confident our organisations will implement the plans and find value in creating linkages, sharing information with a range of factors and contribute to the vibrant environment and natural resource sector of Zambia,” said Mwanza