Mr. James Phiri is the Executive Director of the Zambia Academy of Sciences and a Researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences of the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Zambia. He is founding Chairperson of the Institute for Eco-Development Strategies and Toxicology (IESTO), a privately funded scientific research organization in Zambia and is a consultant in environmental management and pollution control strategies, climate change and chemicals management. In 2004, he developed the SADC GHS on chemicals management. He earned his BSc from the University of Zambia in 1984 and his MSc from the University of Liverpool, School of Tropical Medicine in 1989.
James has held several high positions in government, private sector and international civil society organizations. He was Director General of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) for eight years (1995-2003) and WWF Country Director for Zambia for five years (2005-2009) having earlier worked for the Ministry of Agriculture as Head of programs in two Provinces of Zambia. From 1996-2003, he was Zambia’s Chief Negotiator to the United Nations on matters of Chemicals Management and Climate Change and was advisor to the Minister of Environment of Zambia on matters of environment, climate change and chemicals management. James has served and co-chaired several United Nations Technical Committees and is a member of the; Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons of the UK, Zambia Academy of Sciences, Chemical Society of Zambia, Entomological Society of Zambia and recent past member of International Society for Environmental Epidemiologists.
James built ZEMA both organically and financially within three years. ZEMA has since earned local, regional and international recognition for its effective environmental pollution control programs that have globally been replicated by UNEP in many developing countries. As Country Director for WWF Zambia, he worked to ensure that WWF developed a climate change program in Africa and helped develop and build the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) climate change program. In 1994, he led a successful integrated program on disposal of tons of obsolete chemicals from the agriculture, mining and energy sectors in Zambia. In 1998, led the successful control program of invasive species (Water Hyacinth) over Southern Africa’s most important river, the Kafue River. The weed chocked the river system and threatened one of the major hydropower stations in Zambia and Southern Africa.
James Phiri has employed multi-stakeholder and community participation approach and “buy-in” approach to employ scientific knowledge and technologies to tackle daunting environmental degradation and environmental pollution in Zambia. Similar approaches can be used at continental level to address under development in Africa as long as there is buy-in and participation of key stakeholders. Based on STISA 2024 and Vision 2063, as the blue print, ASRIC should employ the power of scientific knowledge, innovation and technology to address some priority problems that require immediate intervention while nurturing scientific research, technology and innovation that will transform Africa. The measure of success for ASRIC will not be in small pilot projects but projects that will successfully and equitably run across the continent. It is do-able and ASRIC must succeed. James S Phiri brings to ASRIC the experience of an applied science practitioner to tackling Africa’s underdevelopment problems.