By BELINDA MITI –
ZAMBIA on April 22, 2016 joined the world to commemorate Earth Day under the theme ‘Trees for the Planet’.
Change has become one of the big threats to sustainable development especially in developing countries.
This is evident from the increased frequency of droughts and floods being experienced in most parts of the world which have impacted agricultural productivity, energy, and general livelihoods of the people.
The world has a number of issues that need to be addressed and resolved if we are to achieve sustainable development.
Without any doubts, our food security, water quality, energy and other critical basic human needs have drastically been affected.
On average the world is losing about 15 billion trees every year due to deforestation, land development, and bad forest management.
As a country we have lost so much due to climate change.
According to the ministry of Lands, Natural Resources, and Environmental Protection, we have lost about US$4,300 to $5,400 million GDP, an estimated aggregate from the agriculture, energy, health and natural resources sectors.
Thus, we cannot afford to do business as usual.
Environmental problems at root are not technical or scientific but human induced.
Therefore, this gives us no excuse of not doing something to save our planet. We might have little or incomplete scientific understanding about the environment, but we all know something to make steward decision at personal and societal level to save our planet.
The fact is that if we stop deforestation, someone will not have food on their table; someone will lose their source of income.
Whatever the case, we need to make steward decision for our planet.
That means taking consideration of our competing needs and values and reaching the best conclusion in the presence of all these numbing complexity of demands and circumstances.
The government may have good policies and strategies such as the National Policy on Environment of 2007; the National Change Response Strategy of 2010; the National Strategy for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation all to help curb the impacts of climate change.
We might even have thoughtful decisions made by those in power, however all this will fail unless they are supported by people who are affected by them.
Section five and six of the Environmental Management Act (EMA), 2011, prescribes the duty that every person has to safeguard and enhance the environment. That calls for efforts from every one of us.
The fundamental principle is that we all need to be mindful that by our mere existence, everything we do, the products we use, the waste we throw, the cars we drive affects our environment.
We, therefore, need to strive to achieve a sustainable society, a society in which the achievements in social, economic, and physical development are made to last.
This calls for changes in our lifestyles, attitudes, the choices we make, and our participation as regards to environmental protection.
The Earth Day is a special day where individuals, institutions, and groups around the globe are coming together to perform acts of service to our earth.
Since 1970, the world has been commemorating this day to inspire awareness of and appreciation for earth’s environment.
This Friday, the world is embarking on an ambitious but achievable campaign of planting 7.8 billion trees by 2020.
This year’s Earth Day is being commemorated at a great time when the world leaders will be meeting to sign the Paris Climate Agreement.
Different groups will be organising events to promote ecosystems and respect for life of our planet, a great step towards fighting climate change.
This year’s theme aims to inspire everyone in a little way to join the fight against climate change; support communities and their economy, and protect biodiversity.
“We must all be inspired to do something for our plants. In whatever way we can, let’s do something to save our planet, plant a tree; minimise the use of paper for your work; reduce waste, incorporate agro-forestry trees in your agriculture fields,” words of wisdom from Wangari Maathai (who was a Kenyan environmental and political activist), adding: “We might feel insignificant but we will not watch the planet go down the drain. I will be a Humming Bird.”
(The author is an environmental consultant based in Kitwe)