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Collins’ green economy challenges, our collective headache

COLLINS Nzovu, the Minister of Green Economy and Environment, says economic development can only be fully realised if there is environmental protection.

He says his ministry would strongly speak against the trend of unnecessary cutting down of trees by Zambians.

“Those who were stealing mukula (rosewood) this is your last day. We’ll have a climate change department under my ministry and this ministry has a big responsibility. I therefore invite all the environmentalists to come on board. In the UPND manifesto, issues of environmental conservation, climate change are very prominent. You cannot develop an economy sustainably while at the same time spoiling the environment, because the materials for economic development come from the environment,” notes Collins. “The misuse of materials, for example, deforestation, destruction of the ecosystems [like] the Kafue ecosystem which is the largest, spoils the environment. That’s why you see effects of climate change [like] extreme droughts, flooding. Those come about because of climate change. The rate at which the population is growing in Zambia, and the world at large, puts pressure to the usage of natural resources for mankind’s survival. The pressure is getting high every day. Because of droughts, there is hunger – people are living in squalor. Because of carbon emissions, burning fossil fuels, the weather patterns are changing. So, mankind has realised that he can only develop economies sustainably if at the same time we ensure that the environment is maintained. Mankind must ensure that as we talk about developing our economies, we take care of the environment. We must plant trees, and not cut them. We must ensure that the rivers are not polluted. We must ensure that people are liberated from the pangs of poverty. This is one of the most important government ministries in the world.”

We agree.

The task before this newly created ministry is huge. As Collins notes, the world is leaning towards green economy to not only save the environment but for the very survival of the human species.

Humanity after being careless – reckless for centuries – is now contending with climate change. And both adoption and adaptation to climate change measures are costly – in fact beyond capacities of most governments and peoples.

And Zambia, like most developing countries, is not only technologically backward to deal with climate change but also financially bankrupt to aid citizens in adopting environmental-friendly measures or techniques, for instance, in agriculture, energy, housing, health and mining.

Despite warnings about the adverse effects of climate change, Zambia is still decimating her forests at an alarming rate for energy purposes. Charcoal production has escalated as majority of citizens depend on this coal for cooking due to not only to load shedding but the very high cost of electricity. Also because majority of our people are not connected to electricity. When it comes to mining – this sector is notorious both in polluting the environment through emissions and other forms of degradation but also in leaving large swathes of land bare wherever open pit mining is done. There’s equally concern over the manner in which we disposal our medical waste. Waste disposal be it medical, industrial and domestic is a huge challenge for Zambia. Add to this the scale of clearing forests – including aquifers – for housing purposes and other structures! We really hope the green ministry will reign over all these issues while accommodating the socio-economic needs of the population. Striking a balance will be key.

We need to advance in all sectors but sustainably.

This ministry must not only be supported through funding and human resource placement but its policy measures and directives will have to be adhered to – respected. If not, we are doomed. Collins’ green economy challenges are our collective headache.

As Fidel Castro’s warned in 1992, “An important biological species – humankind – is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural habitat. We are becoming aware of this problem when it is almost too late to prevent it. It must be said that consumer societies are chiefly responsible for this appalling environmental destruction. With only 20 per cent of the world’s population, they consume two thirds of all metals and three fourths of the energy produced worldwide. They have poisoned the seas and the rivers. They have polluted the air. They have weakened and perforated the ozone layer. They have saturated the atmosphere with gases, altering climatic conditions with the catastrophic effects we are already beginning to suffer. The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding. Billions of tonnes of fertile soil are washed every year into the sea. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressures and poverty lead to desperate efforts to survive, even at the expense of nature. Unequal trade, protectionism and the foreign debt assault the ecological balance and promote the destruction of the environment. If we want to save humanity from this self-destruction, wealth and available technologies must be distributed better throughout the planet. Less luxury and less waste in a few countries would mean less poverty and hunger in much of the world.”

The Ministry of Green Economy and Environment is truly a sensible addition to government functions. And it is refreshing to have a minister in charge of this ministry who resonates well with how environmental protection matters. Let all our people sing from the same hymn book titled environmental protection. A green economy will certainly save millions of human beings as well as wildlife in this country. What can be more important than safeguarding human and animal life? Let’s conserve the environment, be it rivers, lakes, vegetation, land, air and everything else. That’s the only remedy to having a green economy and pro-life environment.

Collins, during his superintendence of the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, needs to be encouraged to not only speak against environmental degradation, but to promptly and sternly act against this evil. Other environmentalists, and concerned Zambians, should amplify Collins’ voice on environmental protection. Let’s make the issue of having a green economy and environment topical in our lives.

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