The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has expressed its jubilation over the momentous decision made by the World Heritage Committee to adopt the proposed amendments presented by Zambia and Zimbabwe regarding the Draft Decision 44 COM 7B.10 concerning the State of Conservation Report on the Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site (MVFWHS).
In a statement issued by Naomi Mweemba, the First Secretary Press of the Zambian Embassy in Paris, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, Chief Executive Officer of ZRA,, emphasized that the adoption of the Draft Decision has provided much-needed clarity and resolved inconsistencies regarding the perceived impact of the proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme (BGHES) within the World Heritage site.
Mr. Munodawafa, speaking at the Extended 45th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, stated that ZRA will collaborate with key stakeholders to transform the proposed BGHES into a global model for sustainable development hydro projects under the World Heritage Convention.
He further emphasized ZRA’s commitment to achieving a balance between conservation, sustainability, and development to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the world heritage site while benefiting the communities involved. The Batoka Hydro Electric Power Scheme is anticipated to be fully operational by 2034 and is expected to enhance stability and power transmission across SADC countries.
The project represents a dual success story, addressing electricity shortages in Zambia and the Southern Africa region, contributing to Africa’s economic growth and development in line with the African Agenda for 2063. Additionally, it offers a valuable global example of integrating sustainable development into World Heritage management.
The Batoka Gorge project will provide tangible lessons on implementing sustainable development projects within and around world heritage sites, setting a precedent for such initiatives under the World Heritage context. The decision by the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh marks a significant step toward collective implementation of sustainable development projects in heritage sites worldwide.