From AID to Trade Environment Africa powers the continent’s ‘green issues’

Continental environmental lobby group Environment Africa (EA) says it is working hard to bring the big issues relating to the continent’s sustainable growth and retention of its natural habitat to the continental agenda.

Presenting papers during the launch of EA’s annual reports on the regional outlook which encompasses Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe officials said time has come to teach Africans not only to “fish but to breed fish.”

“We do not believe in handing out fish and it is not enough to teach people how to fish, what is needed for Africa is to build capacities for the African people to breed fish and only then will we be able to sustain communities for life.

“Environment Africa has a deep understanding of the African way and we have also learnt that AID is not the long term solution for our people and our continent and that we need to move from AID to Trade,” Chief Executive Officer Charlene Hewat said.

She said to achieve this EA is promoting the concept of Private, Public Community Partnerships (PPICP) and believed this is the future of sustainable development in Africa.

Hewat said uncontrolled environmental destruction has led to a loss of livelihood options and capacities and a consequent increase in food insecurity.

“Climate change adaption and mitigation, local energy, fuel wood solutions and more sustainable agricultural solutions are all desperately needed by poor and vulnerable rural and peri-urban households across Southern Africa.

“Environment Africa addresses cross-cutting issues such as poverty alleviation, gender equality, HIV and the rights of children and youths,” said Hewat.

Regional Director Paradzayi Hodzonge said despite the world economic crisis EA had witnessed growth in both financial support and the scope of its programs.

“The most disappointing thing coming out of Climate Change conference (COP17) was the lack of legally binding global commitment to deal with climate change, because we are aware that the current environmental and development crisis cannot be overcome by voluntary action alone.

“Legally binding commitment is critical for the different issues of mitigation, adaption, finance, development of technology and afforestation,” Hodzonge said.

He said EA remains hopeful that the next global conference on climate change Rio +20 will not be another “talk show” lacking solid and real commitment to progressive action towards climate change, mitigation and adaption.

Environment Africa Chairman Albert Katsande said the organization had successfully lobbied for the adoption of a Sustainable Development Framework by African countries and was happy that Zimbabwe had adopted a Medium Term Plan that has sustainable development as a cross cutting issue in all economic sectors.

“The question still remains however will the policies and laws governing sustainable development and the environment be implemented and adhered to or will they be ignored for the sake of unsustainable developments, greed and be sidelined due to corruption,” said Katsande.

Katsande said the private sector had long realized the importance of the environment and that threats to ecosystems could have serious impact on business operations and are now responding to these signals.

“The launch of the Recycling Association is one such positive initiative, where the Retailers Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) spearheaded by most of the country’s retail giants have established a Recycling Green Fund to promote what is known as the 4Rs-reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery.

“This a True Green Investment Project which has kick-started the African Green Funds in Southern Africa where the private sector donors and supporters can invest in a greener future for all civil society,” the renowned industrialist said.

Environment Africa was formed after the famous transcontinental bicycle journey that became known as the “Rid for Rhino” undertaken by Charlene Hewat and Julie Edwards who became known as the Rhino Girls in 1986.

Hewat and Edwards rode from Scotland through Scandinavia into Africa through Europe along the Zambezi River into Zimbabwe and one year and 22 000km later they were in Harare.

Post published in: Analysis

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