THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that failure to manage the environment and natural resources threatens the country’s vision towards achieving sustainable development and an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Speaking during an environmental capacity building seminar recently, UNDP poverty reduction, environment and climate change team leader Anne Madzara said Zimbabwe was facing a number of daunting challenges, including deforestation, soil erosion, contamination and pollution from poor mining practices and domestic and industrial waste management.
“Zimbabwe is a low-income country whose economy and livelihoods depend hugely on natural resources.
“We have an ambition to leapfrog to a middle-income economy by 2030. Zimbabwe’s backbone sectors — mining, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism — rely heavily on forest, land, and water resources for inputs to the production of goods and services, meaning the physical environment determines our GDP and growth.
“This presents a red flag … growth to the middle-income economy will come with significant environmental costs that undermine future prospects for sustainable growth and social development.
“Yet even under the current scenario, progress towards environmental sustainability has been insufficient.
“Ensuring sustainable use of natural resources, maintaining well-functioning ecosystems, and implementing a viable climate change response strategy remain important for the 2030 middle-income vision to be attained where we should ensure sustained growth and lasting prosperity,” she said.
Madzara added that despite the country having an impressive environmental management policy framework, Zimbabwe’s climate change, environment and natural resources management sector faces multiple challenges, resulting in biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and reduced water quality.
“Some of the key challenges include high deforestation whose rate has accelerated from 100 000 ha per annum in the 1990s, to 327 000 ha per annum (1.9 percent) between 2000 and 2010 and is now the highest in southern Africa.
Speaking at the same event, chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment Concilia Chinanzvavana said there was need to deal with corruption in the management and conservation of the environment in order to achieve sustainable development.
“Human activities are degrading the environment that our survival solely depends on.
“I am convinced that you all strongly agree with me that if we are to succeed in our quest to protect and conserve our environment, then all forms of environmental corruption must be prosecuted,”Chinanzvavana said.