Saturday, 13th November 2010 marked the official launch of The Green Zambezi Alliance (GZA) together with the Africa Green Fund and the Sponsor an African Green Acre initiative by Environment Africa. The black tie Green Ball was held at Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare. A number of notable guests were present,including GZA initial members, Tikki Hywood Trust, IAPF, Zambezi Society, Ian Nyschens Zambezi Valley Conservation Trust, Happy Books, Zimbabwe Environment Law Association (ZELA) and Environment Africa.
The Minister of Environment, Mr Francis Nhema was Guest of Honour and gave an impassioned unscripted speech about the importance and need for conservation of our environment, both from a local and international perspective. He praised the efforts and dedication shown by NGO, Environment Africa, with its 20 year track record of commitment to environmental and wildlife conservation and to empowering communities to be self sustaining in harmony with our unique natural resources.
Minister Nhema personally commended the ongoing leadership, passion and drive of Environment Africa’s CEO, Charlene Hewat. He reminisced about the year 1987, when Charlene, together with a friend, Julie Edwards rode 22,000km from the UK to Zimbabwe to raise funds for rhino conservation. On completion of this marathon ride, the ‘Rhino Girls’ as they had become known globally, handed over £250,000 to National Parks as well as drawing worldwide attention to the plight of the rhinos in Zimbabwe. They were awarded the Natural Resources Board Gold Medallion, the highest award for conservation in Zimbabwe. Charlene has gone on to receive many awards, both national and international in recognition of her service and achievements in environmental conservation.
Three years ago, Charlene had a vision for the next step forward in the ongoing fight for the preservation of our wildlife and environment. This dream has now become reality with the official unveiling of The Green Zambezi Alliance by Minister Nhema. The GZA is a trans-boundary environmental initiative which will open the way for long term conservation strategies to protect the regions on both sides of the Zambezi River, unique in its biodiversity. It is an enormous project with incredible long term potential, which will require substantial funding.
To raise such funds, the Green Ball was also the platform for the launch of the innovative ‘Sponsor an African Green Acre’ initiative, whereby individuals and organisations can make a positive contribution towards saving the environment by sponsoring an African Green Acre within the GZA. Acres range in size from 10 Elephant Acres costing US$1000 down to a ¼ Pangolin acre which will cost US$25. All financial sponsorships and donations will collectively go into the Africa Green Fund which will enable channelling of monies to regional Green Funds to finance specific projects within the GZA. These projects, which will include WEPU – Wildlife & Environment Protection Units, Wildlife & Natural Resource Management, Community, Education and Health and will be facilitated by Environment Africa through PPCP’s – Public, Private, Community Partnerships.
To show his support for the GZA initiative, Minister Nhema became the first sponsor of a Rhino Acre for US$100. Minister Nhema applauded the Green Zambezi Alliance initiative and described it as a positive way of demonstrating that we as Africans are capable, able and willing to look at new innovative ways of developing the Zambezi area. He said that each and every one of us has a responsibility to conserve and protect our environment and wildlife for future generations.