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Govt and CSO stakeholders echo environmental sustainability at World Environmental Day symposium

When President Hakainde Hichilema ascended to the presidency in August 2021, he established the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment to reciprocate the global call on climate change, environmental protection, and sustainability.

Headed by Honorable Collins Njovu, the ministry closely works with the Zambian Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), government departments working on environment protection, and civil society organizations working for climate change, environmental protection, and protection of citizen’s health.

This year, the globe is celebrating World Environmental Day under the theme “Only One Earth” to serve as a reminder of protecting the planet and encouraging people globally to take positive environmental attitudes.

The theme mirrors the 1972 theme in Stockholm which was characterized by messages of sustainability, policy advocacy, academic research, recommendations, and historical context for the environment, and climate.

Every year, World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 every year to raise awareness about degrading environmental conditions and help create a better future for the environment.

Prior to the commemoration, the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment held a symposium on the 2nd and 3rd of June to discuss lessons learned, academic research, historical contexts, and recommendations affecting the country’s climate, and environment.

During the official opening ceremony, the Ministry’s Director of Environmental Management Godwin Fishani Gondwe said that the symposium was a platform established to propagate a sustainable roadmap, policy, education, and advocacy for the country’s environment.

Ministry of Green Economy and Environment Director of Environmental Management Godwin Fishani Gondwe speaking during the symposium

Gondwe was officiating the symposium on behalf of the Permanent Secretary who was absent at the time attending to the ministerial responsibilities.

He stated that the theme “Only One Earth” spoke of the need for bringing transformative changes and policies toward a greener lifestyle in the country.

“The integrity of the earth is threatened by unhealthy environmental practices and human activities such as unsustainable harvesting of forestry, pollution, overfishing, poaching, and habitat destruction,” he said.

He said that these threats were initiated due to inadequate resources to sustain livelihoods, poor strategies, poverty, and inadequate stakeholder participation.

“In the long run, this affects our communities, the economy, and increases the chances of contracting animal and plant diseases such as Monkey Pox, and COVID-19,” Gondwe explained.

The Director for Environmental Management stated that COVID-19 had an extensive impact on the economy, human resource capital, and the health of the community.

Gondwe said that the environment and economy are linked and that while priority stands on restoring the economy, there should be a focus on the environment.

“Our long-term response must be to restore the environment, ecosystems, and live in harmony with it,” he expressed.

He said that the government through the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment recognizes that achieving sustainable development requires innovative ecological friendly strategies, accessing empirical data from sciences, and sharing experiences in knowledge management areas. Legal innovations, papers, and will go a long way in answering these environmental challenges.

“The legal innovations, papers, and experiences, as well as recommendations that will be shared on this platform, will go a long way in answering these environmental challenges,” he said. “In addition, the government wishes to thank the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for their financial, and material support in spearheading this symposium.”

Gondwe appealed to all stakeholders to ensure that this year’s theme “Only One Earth”, emanates in all political, environmental, economic, and social endeavours to achieve a greener and sustainable lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Children’s Environmental Health Foundation (CEHF) Chairman General Michael Musenga stated that partnership with the government through the Ministry of Green Economy to promote environmental sustainability was cardinal to the country’s environmental and public health.

Musenga spoke to Lusaka Star when he said that signified the cardinal step stakeholders both private and the public should take in order to promote environmental sustainability in Zambia.

The CEHF Chairperson acknowledged that partnership with the International Pollutants Environmental Network (IPEN) had been fruitful in supporting CEHF spearhead advocacy to policy-makers in order to eliminate lead in paint and the phasing out of mercury in dentistry in Zambia.

“Since the establishment of CEHF in 2011, we have achieved a lot in promoting environmental sustainability such as the phasing out of amalgam use in children by the Dental Association of Zambia,” he explained.

He also mentioned that CEHF had managed to have voluntary paint standards ascended to signature by the Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Industry through the Zambia Bureau of Standards.

Musenga stated that the CEHF had a noble mandate of protecting children, pregnant women, and the general public from toxic, and hazardous environmental materials and emissions in order to preserve the health, and environment of the country.

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