Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote at the Kasanka Trust Event

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote
Kasanka Trust Event
French Ambassador’s Residence, Lusaka, Zambia
June 25, 2019

(as prepared for delivery)

 

Dr. Charles Banda, MP, Minister of Tourism and Arts
The Ambassador of France to Zambia, His Excellency Sylvain Berger
Kasanka Trust Board Chair Christopher Kangwa and Kasanka Trust Board Members
Distinguished officials from the Zambian government
Diplomatic colleagues and fellow conservationists
Members of the press
Ladies and gentlemen

It is an honor to participate in tonight’s celebration of the Kasanka Trust, which plays a critical leadership role in protecting and preserving some of Zambia’s most unique and delicate habitats, in Kasanka National Park and Kafinda Game Management Area.  The trust’s work is also critical to developing Zambia’s tourism sector, which I believe will be a key driver of future economic development.

First, let me congratulate Ambassador Berger for his leadership, and the French people for their incredibly gracious contribution to Kasanka Trust and the conservation efforts in Zambia.  Your impressive support will make a huge impact in and around Serenje District, and sends a fantastic message to the world about the importance of conservation to Zambia’s future.

Zambia’s most depleted and under-utilized resource is its incredible bio-diversity.  The natural landscapes and wildlife of Zambian National Parks are truly world class, but its tourism product needs strong commitment to counter severe underdevelopment and depletion, largely by poaching.  With sustainable development and effective management of these resources, Zambia could reap huge returns with relatively small investments.  I have preached to anybody willing to listen about how the enormous losses in habitats and animal populations threaten Zambia’s God-given endowment and economic future.  Without immediate action, we will lose many of your iconic species not only in our lifetimes, but before your babies begin secondary school.

I’ve spoken often about “creating the right conditions,” to foster public private partnerships that can grow conservation and the tourism industry, provide benefits to communities, and provide conservation through tens – if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in private investment. The government of Zambia could resolve this with a few, easily implemented actions, but has been unable to take the necessary steps.  Once again, I call on Zambian government leaders to make a real commitment to wildlife conservation and anti-poaching efforts before it’s too late.