GWP Interview: Dundee Scholarship Resulted in Environmental Award

Posted: 2013-12-19

Morgan Katati is the Executive Director of the Zambia Institute of Environmental Management (ZIEM), a GWP Partner. Last summer he was one of the recipients of the joint GWP-University of Dundee scholarship, on offer for those interested in international water law and whose institution is a GWP Partner. His expectations were far exceeded, and he tells the story of how his newly gained knowledge resulted in an award for outstanding environmental work.

“I applied for the GWP scholarship because I wanted to sharpen my knowledge, enhance my leadership and increase my practice in environment and natural resources management. Specifically I saw the scholarship as a rare opportunity for me to gain legal competencies needed to design, plan and provide desirable leadership to the masses on water governance in particular and natural resources management in general,” says Katati.

And when he made it to the University of Dundee in Scotland, he found that the course was even better than anticipated.

“My experience in Dundee was awesome. First, my needs and expectations were far exceeded, I did not know that water law could have a lot of literature organized in such a way. The motivated and highly experienced global water practitioners gathered from around the world were a big inspiration, combined with effective interactions and networking amongst professionals of different backgrounds. The water course did not only unlock my understanding of water law and contribute to my knowledge, but it also exposed me to theoretical and practical applications of law in my own jurisdiction”, says Katati.

Award-winning Work

Katati explains that the course enabled him to successfully handle a complex water pollution problem when he returned to his job in Zambia.

“These skills enabled me and my team to deliver results in a pollution saga in the Musakashi river catchment, on the copper belt province of Zambia, which involved a multimillion dollar conglomerate mining company. The complexities of such issues are normally settled in courts of law, but we managed to negotiate a restoration order by the environmental agency, which forced the mining company to clean up the river section they had polluted with silts from the underground copper mine in Chambishi.”

Katati says that this was the first time that an environmental restoration order was issued in Zambia. The mine company committed extra money to the clean-up process of a section of the river for the benefit of poor communities living along the river catchment.

“In most cases they simply redirect the river from the polluted sections to allow a continuous flow of water, despite the environmental impacts of the processes. But with this work my institution won the best award of environmental activism of 2013. This was given to us by Zambia Environmental Management Agency,” Katati says.

To the COP and Beyond

The knowledge Katati gained in Dundee has also benefited him in the UNFCCC climate change negotiations, where he has been participating since COP 15 in Copenhagen.

“Arising from the technical understanding of international water law, I was able to advise our delegation during COP 19 on a number of issues and their implications in treaty negotiation, based on a legal matrix I learned in water law. My advice was appreciated by the Zambian delegation generally,” says Katati.

Morgan Katati now plans to pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) in international water law at the University of Dundee.

“In order to effectively contribute to the vision of a more sustainable and desired future, one needs to be well equipped with a deeper knowledge of water law especially as it related to water use, rights and responsibilities. I came to know during my two year research I conducted in the Musakashi river catchment, that the lack of legal knowledge relating to water and rights accounts for some of the conflict between the mining industry and communities in mining towns. I have no doubt that the LLM in the International Water Law programme will equip me with the knowledge and skills to further influence and contribute effectively to policy and legal reforms in my home country of Zambia.” 

The application process for next year’s GWP-University of Dundee scholarship has now started, and is open until 15 February 2014. Information on how to apply can be found here: 2014 GWP-University of Dundee International Water Law Scholarship Programme.

Top photo: Morgan Katati at COP 19 in Warsaw.

Middle photo: Katati receiving his diploma in Dundee.

Bottom photo: Katati's class at Dundee.

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