Process to declare Zambia’s Barotse Plains a World Heritage Site halted

Posted by Ashna Brijmohun on 3 December 2021

Plans to have Zambia’s Barotse Plains listed as a World Heritage site under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have been halted by Zambian authorities. The campaign named ‘From Barotse to the World’ was designed by the Zambian government to bring attention to the unique landscape and culture of the Barotse Plains.

The Zambezi Barotse floodplain. Picture: Getaway Gallery

The derailing of the ‘From Barotse to the World’ campaign is due to growing concerns from Zambians. The natives have expressed their worries that once declared a World Heritage Site, the Barotse Plains will be sold. The plans have now been put on pause to allow stakeholders to have further discussions and consultations regarding the course of the campaign.

According to IOL, the Zambian Minister of Tourism, Rodney Sikumba, stated that the Zambian ‘government will not proceed to submit the nomination of the Barotse Plains as a UNESCO Heritage Site next year until all concerns are addressed’. The Zambian government is instead utilising this opportunity to allow all involved to engage with one another and to openly express their concerns regarding the ‘From Barotse to the World’ campaign. Conversations between stakeholders, local traditional leadership, and the National Heritage Conservation Commission hopes to reach a reasonable and mutually beneficial settlement.

The Zambian government has emphasised the significance of declaring the Barotse Plains a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it would increase tourism in the country. Sikumba insisted that the ‘From Barotse to the World’ campaign does include selling the Zambian land or negatively impacting the local population.

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