HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsZim loses vitality, pristineness

Zim loses vitality, pristineness


ZIMBABWE is only one for all of us. Yet, it is visibly losing its vitality and pristineness due to the reckless policies and ruinous acts of some of its people.

ViewPoint with Wisdom Mdzungairi

Its resources are being exhausted and the safe livelihood of the humankind is gravely endangered.

Alarming environmental changes and disasters, unprecedented and unheard of before, occur at a greater rate. Climate change with ensuing water shortage, wild fires, desertification, drought, soil and vegetation degradation leads not only to depletion of natural resources, but also threaten the social and economic development of the entire country.

It is indeed sobering therefore to draw the attention of the public to the United Nations World Environment Day, which is observed every year on June 5. And this year on Wednesday this week people across the world celebrate the World Environment Day(WED). It is a day for action where activities take place in virtually every country in the world to improve the environment now and for the future.

Our country seems to be partially prioritising a green economy shift across big economic sectors such as mining by promoting environmental awareness among the youth. As a prelude to the biggest day of environmental action this Wednesday, the Environment ministry has organised celebrations that will be punctuated by entertainment activities and roundtable discussions on the Green Economy among other activities.

The 2013 theme for the event, the single biggest day for positive action on the environment worldwide, is Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint – building on the global campaign of the same name to reduce food waste and loss launched earlier this year by UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and partners. Dovetailing from this Zimbabwe’s theme is Think.Eat.Save — Promoting Sustainable Practices.

It focuses attention both on the issue and the absurdity that high volumes of perfectly edible produce are never making it from the farm to the consumers. At least a third of everything we grow on this planet is lost between the field and the consumer.

It is an ethical, economic and environmental issue given the enormous waste of energy, water, fertilizers and other inputs as a result of food that is produced but never eaten.

This year’s event will attract the likes of Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, UN resident representative Alain Noudehou, Environment Minister Francis Nhema and secretary Florence Nhekairo among other notables.

I thought the line-up could be expanded to include all government departments, ministers Joseph Made, Herbert Murerwa etcetera and flagship companies to show that they are practically concerned about the changing climate affecting our economy.

It is time politicians, business, consumers and precisely everybody knew that environmental protection is not a single-day campaign. This is a life-long cause of day-to-day efforts of every citizen.

Our country is facing enormous challenges including growing pressure on food security, land degradation and water supplies as a result of the impacts of climate change.

It is my hope that Zimbabweans demonstrate to the world that a transition to a green economy is possible, even within some of the most traditionally challenging industrial sectors –when leadership, vision, smart policies and political will are translated into action on the ground.

As one of the most-threatened by climate change countries, Zimbabwe should ensure that new businesses have environmental safeguards and to bring Green Development across the economy.

Our vast national parks and specially protected areas can be the backbone of ecotourism that could generate conservation income and green jobs. Hence our vision could include targets for the uptake of solar and wind power that can fuel our economic growth, while exporting surpluses.

It is unbelievable that one million Zimbabweans will need food handouts to take them through to the next harvest, yet seriousness on matters of the environment is lacking at the highest level.

Yet politicians will soon go knocking at their doors looking for votes seeing that we will be going for an election later this year.

Sustainable food systems must be made in the face of environmental and economic shocks. Our traditional way of storing grain is the best way forward to narrow the hunger gap and improve the well-being of the most vulnerable. Could our food shortages be anything to do with pests, inadequate storage facilities and inefficient supply chains?

All the State actors in the country’s food chain and politicians must take responsibility for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable food systems to reduce the number of hungry people.

If truth be told, reducing food waste, will save the country money and resources, minimize environmental impacts and, most importantly, move towards attaining the “Bread Basket Status”.

WED is celebrated at a time the United Nations climate negotiations will resume today, when the world recently crossed the threshold of 400ppm concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, at least 50 parts above what scientists suggest is safe (350ppm) and significantly higher than pre-industrial levels (270ppm).

We have already seen real changes to rainfall patterns, to crop yields, increases in storm surges and droughts that are starving and parching vulnerable people across the globe.

These impacts are the heralds of a planetary emergency.

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