• Musonda Mumba

Remembering Victor Tsang: A UNEP Champion for all things Sustainability and SDGs.


March 10th, 2019. A pretty normal Sunday. A work day for most of the UN Environment colleagues because this weekend marked the pre-meetings for the Fourth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4).


The sun shone. I arrived at the UN Complex excited to check out some of the most incredible exhibitions of all things “Circular Economy”. And also to prepare for the High-Level moderation I was due to undertake in the course of the week. The One Planet Summit, the first time in Africa, led by the French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron was underway. The air was ecstatic. Staff excited.


Checking out the first ever Solar Powered Safari Truck together with Dr. Rose Mwebaza at UNEA-4, March 2019.

I was even more excited by the event I had been helping Victor prepare for. With such joy and excitement, he kept reminding me even while on mission at the Vatican in Rome, saying: Musonda, our event will be amazing and fun. A kind of TED Talk style chat on SDGs. I laughed hard and promised I would be there of course and help him make it a success, by any means.


A rumour at first.


A plane has crashed! Ethiopian, they said. How true? Perhaps a rumour as things go.


The rumour turned to fact to reality to a nightmare! Confirmed: Victor Tsang was on the flight. I was upset, angry, and cried. Any survivors? None.


And so UNEA-4 began. We kept straight faces, walked tall. In his memory, we said. Carried along. I wore my black dress and introduced presidents with a smile. We did a selfie. Pain numbed. UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina J Mohammed addressed us. Pictures taken. We smiled some more. Pain numbed.


Wanjira Mathai, UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw & me - One Planet Summit Event, UNEA-4 March 2019.

Selfie with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ms. Amina J Mohammed & Others at UNEA-4 Highlevel event, March 2019.

Me with the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina J Mohammed, at UNEA-4, March 2019.

The SDG TED Talk style event happened. Without Victor. A success. We represented him. Pain numbed.


At the end of the week – we lit the memorial candles. Total number of the nationalities represented in the lost souls. We are after all – The United Nations. We grieved as a family.


I walked away end of the week that Friday afternoon from the UN complex, heading straight to my safe space, my home. Closed in, the pain no longer numbed – I cried! Long and hard. When you lose a colleague, who believed so fiercely in what he did and incredibly giving of himself – you don’t how else to remember him but to continue contributing to his dream.


UNEA-4 on all things SDGs. For Victor.

A poem in memory of Victor Tsang by Christy Ann Martine

Don’t cry for me, I’m not gone. My soul is at rest. My heart lives on.

Light a candle for me to see and hold on to my memory, but save your tears for I’m still here. By your side through the years.


Rest in Power Victor.

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