Zambia: Integrating Environmental, Economic Policies

“THE ‘environment’ is where we live; and development is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. The two are inseparable.”

This is according to Our Common Future, which is also known as the Brundtland Report, from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development published in 1987.

I found this phrase interesting as it resonates well with this year’s theme, “Managing Environment For Growth” for the Agriculture and Commercial show.

In line with the theme, the companies are showcasing how, through their business activities, they are managing the environment for sustainable development.

I believe this is essential because sustainable economic growth and environment are inseparable especially with the advent of Climate Change.

But what I see is that environmental degradation is undermining development and threatening the future development progress.

There is an endless list of examples where development is overtaking sustainable management of the environment.

For instance allowing mining in game parks is a direct affliction to environmental justice.

Another example is the increased industrial activities that have greatly contributed to polluting the environment thereby threatening sustainability.

Deforestation, resulting from increased economic activities like construction and the huge demand for charcoal emanating from power rationing locally known load shedding, has continued to harm the environment.

But development should enable people to better their well-being.

Long-term development can only be achieved through sustainable management of various assets such as financial, material, human, social and natural.

Sectors such as agriculture, fishery, forestry, tourism and minerals provide important economic and social benefits to people.

Good development entails increasing the asset base and its productivity, empowering poor people and marginalised communities.

It also reduces and manages risks and taking a long-term perspective with regard to intra- and intergenerational equity.

Environmental degradation has been demonstrably linked to human health problems that include some types of cancers, vector-borne diseases, and emerging animal to human disease transfer, nutritional deficits and respiratory illnesses.

The environment provides essential material assets and an economic base for human endeavour.

Almost half the jobs worldwide depend on fisheries, forests or agriculture.

Non-sustainable use of natural resources such as land, water, forests and fisheries can threaten individual livelihoods as well as local, national and international economies.

The environment plays a significant role in contributing to development and human well-being.

But it also increases human vulnerability, causing human migration and insecurity, such as in the case of storms, droughts or environmental mismanagement.

Environmental scarcity can foster cooperation, but also contribute to tensions or conflicts.

However, one of the conclusions is that there is an acute lack of data, both on the impacts of environmental policy on economic growth, and on the degree to which environmental damage may hamper economic activity.

This lack of data, often due to the absence of market transactions in some fields, is a severe barrier to integrating environmental and economic policies.

In particular, the absence of figures on the effect of environmental damage on economic activity makes it difficult, if not impossible, to identify the scope for win-win measures.

Economic growth, in turn, is important for the prosperity and well-being of the economy and its citizens in developing economies like ours.

It stimulates advances in technology, such as those that will be needed to continue decoupling consumption and production from their environmental impacts.

It is also an important factor in enabling other drivers of well-being, such as improvements in health, education, and overall quality of life and economic growth.

Economic growth typically refers to an increase in the level of goods and services produced by an economy, as estimated by measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The challenge lies in the proper management of these resources.

Sustainable development provides a framework for managing human and economic development, while ensuring a proper and optimal functioning over time of the natural environment.

To effectively address environmental problems, policy makers should design policies that tackle both pressures and the drivers behind them.

Economic instruments such as market creation and charge systems may be used to help spur environmentally sustainable behaviour.

Valuation can help policy makers to reach informed decisions about the value of changes to ecosystem services.

Noneconomic instruments should be used to address both well-known problems with proven solutions.

On the other hand, as the country promotes diversification and expansion of the economy, there is need to safeguard the environment from deforestation and bad farming practices.

I am sure exhibitors at the show have taken of this opportunity to educate the show-goers good farming practices such as conservation agriculture that protects the environment.

Conservation agriculture is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment.

This is according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

People would like to know how soil fertility can be preserved through natural farming practices which do not require use of chemical fertiliser.

In short, promoting organic farming which is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people is the best.

It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.

This is the only way to ensure sustainable productivity for the benefit of future generations.

I want to encourage companies to plant trees at their business environments to help mitigate the adverse impact of climate change.

While the nature of the show may attract businesses with the sole intention of window dressing, I urge all exhibitors to take this year’s theme seriously.

I also expect exhibitors and people that have gone to the show to take a lead in promoting tree planting.

Beyond the show, exhibiting companies should uphold the theme of managing the environment for growth.

I end here today. But I want to reproduce a reaction from last week’s article on biosafety.

Dear Mr Ngosa, I have read with interest your article of this week, about biosafety and our regulatory bodies, and must say the Vision and Mission’ of our NBA (National Biosafety Authority) are very laudable, but – as Mr Simpamba (Frank Simpamba reacted to the last column) narrated, the problem lies in the implementation.

The same is true for ZEMA (Zambia Environmental Management Agency) which is supposed to keep our environment safe.

Here too we have a conflict between stated objectives and implementation on the ground. You may have followed the debate about the mine in Lochinvar National Park.

This follows the long debate about the mine in Lower Zambezi National Park which remains unresolved to this day. IIse Mwanza

Source: The Times of Zambia.