Sharon is a Senior Environmental Scientist at Black Crystal Consulting based in Harare, Zimbabwe. As a Senior Consulting Partner, her main priorities are to generate business opportunities, drive business decisions, and lead in the development of business vision, work planning and office sustainability. As an Environmental Scientist, her technical duties include checking social, economic and environmental aspects during project development and implementation, project management, conducting technical consultations for EIAs, and producing environmental management plans and best practice codes for developers and contractors.
Sharon had moved to Zimbabwe after graduating from her degree in the UK. She established an Environmental Section in the Harare office of an international multi-disciplinary engineering and environmental consultancy called Ove Arup, and gained experience as an Environmental Consultant at a time where undertaking EIAs was not a legal requirement. Reflecting on this time, Sharon acknowledged its challenges. However, she became a key member of the project teams, ensuring sustainable development was firmly entrenched into most engineers' work of scope. During this time, she oversaw and introduced concepts such as using 'rock stores' for passive cooling and using horizontal wind turbines, ensuring successful projects were replicated, where possible.
After seven years at Arup, Sharon joined a small NGO called Environment Africa as Head of the Technical Service Department, and gained experience in the field of development, enabling people to understand the need for natural resource protection and providing the means to achieve it.
"Where there is poverty there is typically environmental degradation and poverty in Zimbabwe is very high: approximately 61% of all Zimbabweans are living in households with income per person below a level sufficient to provide basic needs... Around 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods but ecosystems are at risk from the effects of climate change."
Three years later, Sharon returned to private consulting to help establish Black Crystal, now one of Zimbabwe's leading reputable companies providing innovative and sustainable solutions for environmental management. She believes working for a small consultancy has provided her with the opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of environmental issues including mining, energy, tourism, wildlife management, industrial and commercial projects, roads, landfills, housing, and fair trade policies.
Recently, Sharon has worked on an EIA for a proposed luxury camp in an undeveloped region of the Mana National Park, a protected area within the Zambezi Valley. The national park is located within a Trans-Frontier Conservation Area, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is part of the Man and Biosphere Programme. Furthermore, it is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and an international RAMSAR wetland site. All the above factors has ensured that the project is undertaken in an environmentally-, sensitively- and socially-acceptable manner, and that any negative impacts are correctly mitigated through the implementation of a sound environmental management plan.
Sharon is a Registered EIA Consultant under the Environmental Management Agency. Additionally, she joined the IES in 1996 to demonstrate a personal commitment to professional standards, and to aid in recognising obligations to society, the profession and the environment. In 2011, she became a Chartered Environmentalist.
"The IES has established ‘environmentalism’ as a profession and ensures practitioners are operating at the same high standards across the sectors. Our clients can be confident in the knowledge and competence of a qualified and experienced environmental practitioner. Chartership provides a competitive edge on consultants who are not."
In the future, Sharon wishes to continue raising environmental awareness within Zimbabwe and continue her contribution on the Business Council for Sustainable Development Zimbabwe Committee for Climate Change.