ZELA on World Environment Day: Let us commit to a green and resilient future

Environmental conservation encouraged

Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) joined hands with the rest of the world in commemorating World Environment Day (#WED2021).

The association said as it works together with stakeholders to prevent irreparable damage on the planet, there is a need to Reimagine, Recreate and Restore as emphasized in the 2021 theme which is focusing on ‘Ecosystem Restoration.’ This year’s Environment Day is unique as we also witness the launch of the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration,’ a 10-year plan that compels the global community to work together in discontinuing the degradation of the ecosystem.

“Worldwide, thousands of people are mobilizing around the message that, we do not have Planet B and World Environment Day affords us an opportunity to join hands in raising awareness on how we can protect the environment and address problems such as air pollution, deforestation, plastic pollution, illegal wildlife trade, climate change, and food insecurity, among others. The theme Zimbabwe has chosen for this year’s WED is, ‘Strong local institutions- key in sustainable ecosystem restoration,’ auguring well with our belief at ZELA in strengthening local level community institutions. ZELA provides technical assistance to communities working on natural resources governance and this transformative dialogue and legal empowerment work are being replicated at the regional level in countries like Mozambique and South Africa.”

On the commemoration of World Environment Day, ZELA also celebrated its 20th anniversary as a public interest law organisation working to promote democracy, good governance, and sustainable development using natural resources as a framework for environmental governance.

Over the last few decades, Zimbabwe’s environment has come under increasing pressure from a multitude of anthropogenically driven threats, including climate change and global warming, over-exploitation of natural resources, habitat loss and environmental degradation, pollution, and invasive alien species.

“We call upon individuals, groups, governments, businesses, and organizations to join forces in a global movement to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation and secure a sustainable future for all.”

Furthermore,  ZELA;

  • Urges the government of Zimbabwe to establish Environmental Courts that will give urgency to environmental issues.
  • Calls upon the State to balance national economic development needs with sustained actions to conserve the natural environment upon which biodiversity thrives and upon which millions rely on livelihoods.
  • Reinstates that management of wetlands needs to involve and accommodate views and needs of a wide range of stakeholders. Stakeholders need to be engaged in a transparent and equitable manner in pursuit of negotiated solutions that encompass a fair distribution of benefits and incentives even in the ongoing discussions on the development of a Wetland Policy.
  • Reiterate the urgent need to address the urban environment’s worsening solid waste management problem confronting urban authorities throughout Zimbabwe.  High population densities and sprouting unplanned settlements as well as changing consumption patterns and public attitudes compound the challenge. This has created an environment where disease-causing vectors can thrive; contributing to air, soil, and water pollution; and emitting greenhouse gases with the potential towards global warming.
  • Calls upon the industry and relevant entities to comply with emission standards as the country works towards a low carbon economy.
  • Reaffirms the need for the continuation of multi-stakeholder dialogue on strengthening legal and policy framework on climate change to enhance monitoring and compliance.
  • Emphasizes that, all stakeholders need to adopt a child rights-based approach to environmental management. This entails ensuring that the substantive and procedural elements of the children’s right to a healthy environment are taken into consideration.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende