On World Environment Day, Protect the Environment and Prevent Pandemics

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the world in commemorating World Environment Day.

Commemorated every year on 5 June, World Environment Day is celebrated to encourage awareness on importance of protection of the environment and advocate for action for the planet’s long-term survival.

In 2020, World Environment Day is commemorated under the theme “Time for Nature” – a concern that is both urgent and existential and which focuses on the role of nature in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development. World Environment Day reminds us of the damage which has been done to the environment in Zimbabwe and the action we need to take to heal it.

Commemorating World Environment Day at a time of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic draws links between the health of the planet and human health and this stresses the importance of protecting and safeguarding biodiversity, which is a system that supports life.

This calls for countries across the world to take urgent action to protect the environment and stop climate change, pollution and diseases.

In Zimbabwe, ZLHR is concerned by the high levels of air pollution obtaining in the country. This is being exacerbated by the Regulations imposed by government banning the operations of private commuter omnibuses and replacing them in some instances with some “chicken buses” operated by the state-run Zimbabwe United Passenger Company.

Some of these aged buses are causing excessive air pollution.

Apart from pollution, ZLHR is perturbed that local authorities are increasingly authorising developments on wetlands including on internationally protected sites and widespread unlawful developments taking place, resulting in a continued degradation of wetlands in Zimbabwe and thereby depriving the country of vital ecosystem services.

It is high time that authorities understand the critical contributions of wetlands to the environment, which without them, water sources would quickly run dry in winter months and poor rainy seasons.

With Zimbabwe and the world suffering from increasing threats of climate change, wetlands are critical to the survival of our ecosystems and water source.

As an organisation which is passionate about protection of the environment, with the right to a clean environment now protected in section 74 of the Constitution, ZLHR will continue working on a sustained campaign to protect wetlands through litigation and advocacy efforts.

It is encouraging to note the recent responses from both local and central government including legislators who have started to acknowledge the extent of the wetlands crisis and the need for their preservation.

To prevent pandemics, ZLHR calls upon;

  • Local and central government and entrepreneurs across the country to prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
  • Promote conservation and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting social and economic development for the benefit of present and future generations.

Together we can act #ForNature

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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