Statement on World Environment Day

ON World Environment Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon the public to use the natural environment’s resources in a responsible manner and to protect and preserve the environment.

Commemorated annually on 5 June, World Environment Day is aimed at celebrating the natural environment and this provides an opportunity for people around the globe to call for the implementation of policies that are aimed at protecting the planet from dangers such as global warming, biodiversity loss, pollution and deforestation.

The theme for World Environment Day in 2022, which is “Only One Earth”, emphasises the finite nature of the earth’s resources. The theme is a call on everyone to utilise natural resources in a sustainable manner. Everyone has a responsibility to sustainably exploit the environment by avoiding wastages. It is also important for everyone to maintain the earth and the environment by replenishing exploited resources through actions such as reforestation and afforestation. The fate of future generations largely depends on how well current generations manage the earth’s limited resources.

Therefore, everyone should aim to preserve the earth so that future generations may also benefit from the earth’s resources.

On World Environment Day, people should act collectively to preserve the Earth and its finite resources.

World Environment Day has become increasingly important in light of the sustained increase in global temperatures. Global warming will have disastrous consequences for the Earth and its inhabitants, if it is not addressed urgently. World Environment Day has also become increasingly important due to the widespread biodiversity loss and pollution which stems from human activities.

In Zimbabwe, the government has a constitutional obligation to protect and preserve the environment and uphold everyone’s environmental rights. According to section 73(2) of the Constitution, the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures to progressively realise everyone’s right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. In terms of section 73(1)(b) of the Constitution, the state also has a duty to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations by implementing measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation, promote conservation, and ensure a balance between the need to sustainably utilise the environment and the need to promote socio-economic development.

Local authorities are also obliged to comply with their legal obligations of maintaining the environment by ensuring that it is clean at all times. Several local authorities have been sued by residents over the past few years for their failure to maintain a clean environment and for failing to collect and discard refuse and for failing to repair sewerage systems. The local authorities’ non-compliance with their legal obligations poses a risk to the well-being and health of residents and the state of the environment.

Therefore, the municipalities’ non-compliance with their legal obligations threatens residents’ constitutionally-protected environmental and health-related rights.

Since we only have ONE EARTH, ZLHR calls upon;

  • The public to utilise the natural environment’s resources in a sustainable manner and to protect and preserve the environment;
  • Government to comply with its constitutional obligations of protecting everyone’s environmental rights by implementing concrete measures that are aimed at preventing pollution and environmental degradation;
  • Government and private companies to ensure a balance between the need to exploit the environment’s resources for socio-economic development, on the one hand, and the equally important objective of preserving the environment for future generations;
  • Both central and local government to comply with their legal obligations of maintaining a clean environment by collecting, removing and discarding refuse and repairing sewerage systems.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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