Environmentalists led by Ian Manning have petitioned members of the UN World Tourism Organisation to boycott the General Assembly scheduled to take place in Victoria Falls and Livingstone - if Zambia allows mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
According to the petition that has been sent the 154 UNWTO member countries and posted online at www.change.org (external link), the UNWTO and its partners, including Zambia and Zimbabwe, must abide by the UNWTO Code of Ethics that recognise ecotourism as key in the fight against poverty.
The petition accuses the government of failing to uphold the rejection of th open-pit mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park by the Zambian Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).
"Its Minister is failing to make a decision on the appeal made in November 2012. In addition, President Sata personally supervises the Road Development Agency, their priority being to construct a tar road through the park without any environmental or strategic oversight. As the miners - Australia's Zambezi Resources Limited - have made clear, President Sata and his senior ministers support the project," read excerpts of the draft petition.
"Therefore, the only reason for the Minister not upholding the appeal by the miners within the statutory two weeks is to save Presidents Sata from being embarrassed at the Victoria Falls and Livingstone UNWTO General Assembly meetings. In the absence of an immediate undertaking to prohibit mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park and to halt the building of a tarred highway until the normal Environmental Impact Statement procedures are followed, I call on member countries and affiliate members to be bound by the UNWTO global code of ethics and BOYCOTT the twentieth General Assembly."
"This document should also insist that Zambia give an immediate undertaking that no mining or unplanned and unsanctioned road programmes will be allowed in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Failure to do so will require a boycott of the August UNWTO/Zimbabwe/Zambia general assembly by member countries and affiliate members,".
It advised people to sign the petition aimed at protecting the environment and the promotion of sustainable development, stating that the Zambezi basin's massive area of primary nature was threatened by mining, hydro-electric schemes and gross infrastructural development. "While gathered on the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls and Livingstone, many members will be unaware that downstream is the mid-Zambezi wonderland of nature in which ecotourism thrives - supposedly secured by a broad array of protected areas, including a world heritage site, and with the massive support of 17 chiefs of the Zambezi Basin who in October 2008 called on their governments and SADC to ban all mining there,".
And Manning stated that the petition had created an awareness of the threat to the Lower Zambezi National Park but it has not had much effect on the Zambian Patriotic Front Government.
Source: Adapted from The Zambian Post, Conservationists petition UNWTO members to boycott assembly (17 May 2013)