BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
AFTER picking up another award in environmental management, Billy Lombe wants to continue working hard in protecting the planet from degradation
and climate change. Lombe, who is founder and chief executive officer of the Youth Environment Network (YEN) Zambia and Centre for Zero Waste and Development, was awarded an African Clean – Up Award for Excellence 2017 during the event in Ghana a fortnight ago. “I think it inspires me to get to work hard towards protecting our planet from environmental degradation and climate change. This is one of the many awards I have won in the past, this in itself humbles me knowing more people are able to appreciate my work across the continent. It is a sign that we are winning the fight despite the challenges it presents in conservation work across the continent,” Lombe says. His other awards include the outstanding Leadership Award in the Field of Environmental issues. This award was given to Mr Lombe by the United States Department of State in 2013 in Washington DC. In 2012 during the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity (CBD) in India, Lombe received a community award for demonstrating outstanding achievement in community work which promotes protection of biological diversity. The African Clean-up Award for Excellence is Africa’s first ever-independent clean-up award that is recognising outstanding and brilliant environmentalists, health and safety experts and philanthropist that are passionate about environmental sustainability in Africa. The African Clean-up Award for Excellence is held in conjunction with the African Clean-up Conference, powered by the African Clean Up Initiative and endorsed by Let’s Do It World Clean-up Foundation in Estonia. The 2017 edition of the African Clean-up Awards 2017 at which Lombe was bestowed with one of the prestigious honours for environmental activism was held at Hans Cottage Bowel – Cape Coast, Ghana on the July 8, 2017. The event was grandeur in style, and attracted environmental sustainability champions across Africa, government officials and philanthropist to the award ceremony. The lofty award, specifically made up of (10) categories, is of great significance and, as such, demanded accurate measurement. The Award Verification Team had been on the Award Selection for over three months because they wanted to create a situation where everyone that is being selected for an award got it based on merit, credibility, and impact. Lombe was selected in the Environmental Youth Category designed at recognising youths for their extraordinary efforts in environmental protection and sustainability in Africa. This is also based on Lombe’s great works he has been doing in protecting the planet earth and supporting environmentally sustainability projects thus contributing to the development of the Africa community. Lombe’s organisation YEN-Zambia has trained about 400 teachers in solid waste management, climate change and WASHE related issues and further engaged about 35,000 pupils to be active environmental agents in their communities. Lombe has in the past 15 years dedicated himself to issues around international development, environmental sustainability and climate change, from the perspectives of youth empowerment, community development, and environmental policy analysis. In 2013, he spent time in the United States as one of 56 exceptional and brightest leaders selected from around the world to participate in a four-month Community Solutions Programme (CSP) sponsored by the US Department of State and administered by International Research Exchanges Board (IREX). As a CSP visiting fellow, he worked on analysing environmental policy issues in both Washington and other regions of the US and further developed an analyses paper on plastic bag bans/fees ordinances in developing countries. He later founded a Centre for Zero Waste and Development which seeks to engage the general public, the private sector, organisations, policymakers and local government in sustainable Zero Waste strategies that urgently addresses the challenges the waste management systems face in Africa. Currently, Lombe serves as an executive co-ordinator of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), African Artists Peace Initiative (AAPI), and finally a Community Solutions Programme (CSP) Global Alumni board member. While he has been winning awards at the international level, Mr Lombe is far from being happy because his efforts have borne fruits locally as Zambian towns continue grappling with garbage. “I don’t feel happy to see our cities, especially Lusaka dirty as it is and that is why we have intensified our activities around pushing for a ban on single use plastic bags,” he says. He commended the Zambia Environmental Management Authority for the polluter pays initiative part but that in itself cannot solve the waste management challenges. “In two weeks, we are screening an award winning movie ‘Trashed’ to be followed by an interactive discussion around the challenges trash poses with best zero waste strategies our local government can use to deal with such enormous challenges,” Lombe says. “Since 2015, we have screened this movie even in Nairobi, Kenya and other African cities and held interactive discussions around the waste management systems. We were happy to see Kenya this year putting up a ban on plastic bags which comes into effect in August,” he explained. Rwanda is a success story around this topic. Kigali has even won more than three awards for being the cleanest city.