Statement of Support from H.E Lazarus Chakwera, 
President of the Republic of Malawi: 

‘The UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration that started in 2021 is ‘a global rallying cry to heal our planet”. We take that cry seriously because ecosystems support all life on Earth. However, we must ensure that our efforts in that regard do not neglect urban ecosystems. After all, half of the world’s population now live in cities. Even here in my country of Malawi, populations in the biggest cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre are projected to swell by over 50% by 2031. 

Our response to this reality must be deliberate. We cannot afford to respond with inaction or short-termism. That is why we have resolved that the best approach is a collaborative and nature-friendly approach that restores the urban ecosystems we need in our quest to end poverty, improve human health and combat climate change. 

Toward that end, this report considers how Malawi can build a green and prosperous future for its cities. It starts with a bird’s eye view of the global context, the key themes and challenges that context presents, and examples of what best practice looks like. Thought leaders and experts in their various fields then give us their perspective on some of the issues most pertinent to Malawi. Finally, it outlines the vision and plan for the Lilongwe Ecological Corridor Initiative (LECI), along with a ‘call to arms’ for all stakeholders. 

In the spirit of collaboration, this report has been compiled with a wide variety of stakeholders in mind. Media, policy makers, CSO’s, donors, learners, business, religious, and community leaders, and urban dwellers have all been taken into account, because they all have a vested interest in understanding what sustainable urban development means, how it can be achieved, and where they can play their part. 

LECI represents a unique and potentially paradigm-shifting opportunity. The groundwork has been laid, and it is now time to broaden these conversations and start putting our collective weight behind the ambition. Indeed, Lilongwe has the potential to stand as Southern Africa’s emerging green city, which would not only be a source of great national pride, but also position Malawi on a global platform as a progressive nation that understands the value of its natural assets. By carrying out meaningful conservation action and pursuing sustainable urban living, we will demonstrate to our rapidly urbanizing globe that it is both possible and imperative to turn our cities into spaces where nature and people thrive together. 

I therefore call on all stakeholders across all sectors to play their part in turning this vision into reality – and quickly, before it is too late.’


The report includes the following articles: 


  • Embracing the Value of Urban Biodiversity – Russell Galt, Head of Urban Alliance, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • SADC Cities Must Step Up on Sustainability – Sibongile Mavimbela, Senior Programme Officer, Environment & Climate Change,Southern African Develoment Community (SADC)
  • Cities in the Spotlight


  • Green Cities are Resilient Cities – Andrew Spezowka, United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction, UNDP
  • Enforce the Law for Greater Good – Hon Chilenga, MP Chitipa South, co-chair of the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus & Chair of Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee
  • Trees are Vital to our Urban Infrastructure – Dorothy Tembo, Director of Programmes, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust
  • Our Communities Need Nature – Eveline Sibindi Van Dam, President, Rotary Club Lilongwe-Lingadzi
  • Prioritising Nature will Boost Tourism & the Economy – Haroon Sacranie, Chairman, ZST Investments Ltd.
  • Urban Parks Bring Nature to City Dwellers – Brighton Kumchedwa, Director, Department of National Parks & Wildlife
  • Youth are the Key to a Sustainable Future – Temwa Mbeya, Founder, United Communities for Transformation


  • Working Towards a Green, Clean, and Prosperous City – John Chome, Chief Executive Officer, Lilongwe City Council
  • LECI Overview
  • Mapping Impact Against Sustainable Development Goals
  • Phase 1: Project Greenheart
  • What next? – Zilanie Gondwe, Director, ICON, & Chair of the LECI Steering Committee