Combined Press Statement for the International Day of Forests, World Water Day and the World Meteorological Day

The Ministry of the Environment, Water and Climate joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day of Forests on 21 March, the World Water Day on 22 March and the World Meteorological Day on 23 March. The fact that these commemorations are being held consecutively and in the same Ministry clearly justifies why the Government decided to bring environment, water and climate sectors under one umbrella. These three, collectively, are pivotal to the socio-economic development of Zimbabwe and critical to the country’s desire to meet the Millennium Development Goals as well as fulfilling the basic human needs and rights. International Day of Forests

The 21st of March, 2014 marks the 3rd anniversary of the declaration by the United Nations General Assembly of the International Day of Forests (IDF) when the world gather to commemorate the importance of trees and forests to livelihoods of the generality of humanity on earth. This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.

In Zimbabwe we will mark this day at Sango raSekuru Nehoreka in Marondera West under the theme: Protect and Conserve forests for improved livelihoods. The day is meant to reflect on the importance of trees and forests with one of the communities that is benefiting from the fruits of their deliberate sustainable forest management practices.  At the Sango raSekuru Nehoreka, I am reliably informed that their indigenous woodland is managed on traditional knowledge systems, a practice that is rife in most African cultures. The traditional management practices have been an envy of everybody who has seen or heard about what they are doing.

Forests are biologically-diverse ecosystems, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They provide ecosystem services, shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations. Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. In Zimbabwe the deforestation rate is at a staggering 330 000 hectares per year.

I would like therefore to stress the importance of tree planting and conservation of our indigenous forest resources to the country. It is both our responsibilities to make sure that the trees planted are taken care of and that they are given a chance to survive. Let me take this opportunity to thank Zimbabweans for having planted 9.8 million trees this season out of our target of 10 million trees.

I urge you to look after all the planted trees so that one day we can enjoy using them when they mature.

World Water Day

Ladies and gentlemen, on Saturday the 22nd of March 2014, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Water Day. It is quite a momentous day on our calendar and that of the water sector in general.

World Water Day was set aside in 1992 following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The day was set aside to draw the attention of policy makers to issues affecting water across the world. This year’s theme is “Water and Energy.” This theme invites us to reflect upon the link between water and energy and encourages us to rethink our water and energy management matrix. Water and energy have crucial impacts in poverty alleviation.

Water and energy are closely interlinked with energy generation requiring the use of water, particularly hydroelectric, nuclear and thermal energy. The use of water in energy production is also evident in the production of fuels where water is a very important component. Conversely, it is also estimated that 8 percent of global energy is used for treating, pumping and transporting water to various consumers.

It therefore follows that the relationship between water and energy is very intricate and reciprocal. Saving water is saving energy and saving energy means saving water.

Energy sources also account significantly for the pollution of water in particular and the environment in general, which also calls upon us as policy makers and managers of water and the environment to adopt a holistic approach in addressing this other side of the nexus between water and energy. This year we will hold the World Water Day Commemorations in Kariba, Mashonaland West. The venue has been deliberately chosen as it is one of the places that provide a practical example of the nexus between water and energy.

As we mark World Water Day 2014, we however remain highly mindful of the fact that water as a finite and strategic resource is increasingly under threat from industrialisation, pollution and climate change. We also remain mindful of the fact that the number of our people lacking access to safe, clean and reliable water supplies continues to rise. This situation therefore calls on us policy makers to rethink our strategies.

Ladies and gentlemen, the demand for water has increased and we have to do a rebalancing of our water allocation strategies.

We therefore need to enhance and establish a coordinated approach to our water resources and energy planning if we are to succeed.

As Government, we have therefore remained highly committed to the sound management of the country’s water resources and we shall do everything in our power to ensure that the water we have is optimally managed for the benefit of every citizen. We shall strive to invest in new water infrastructure construction, rehabilitation and expansion of existing water infrastructure and water conservation works that includes pollution control.

World Met Day

Ladies and gentlemen, with respect to meteorology, each year, this day is celebrated on the 23rd of March in commemorating the coming into force of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on this day in 1950. With a present membership of 191countries, including Zimbabwe, the WMO’s mandate is to facilitate international collaboration in meteorology. I would like therefore to congratulate the WMO for reaching this milestone and for its global outreach and membership.

This year’s theme is, “Weather and Climate: Engaging the Youth”. This theme is particularly close to my heart since I am aware of what the youths are currently going through, especially the hardships they are facing.

The commemoration will be held in Mashonaland West Province at Mushamba Karuma in Kariba District.

The Secretary-General of WMO, in his message to the world, clearly explained the importance and relevance of the weather and climate to the youth. This association is becoming more imperative considering that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow and so are going to bear the brunt of the vagaries of weather and climate, particularly the adverse impacts of climate change. We are told by the scientists that these extreme weather events are forecast to become more frequent and severe thus impacting on the current youths.

If what happened this year with respect to floods is anything to go by, then it is very likely that the worst is yet to come. It then becomes imperative that we prepare the youths to understand and appreciate their role in shaping the future of Zimbabwe.

We are now being informed that it is our own actions which are introducing new uncertainties into how the climate is now behaving. Excessive land degradation, deforestation, emission of gases and particulate matter has impacted greatly on the weather and climatic conditions of various cities across the globe.

The impacts of climatic change over centuries include increased food insecurity, increased frequency of occurrence and severity of droughts and natural disasters and increase in areas prone to diseases due to high temperatures such as Malaria.

Zimbabwe has not been spared of these impacts as among others effects droughts have become more frequent and malarial cases have increasingly been reported in previously rare areas over the years. Therefore, My Ministry will assist the youths in resource mobilization to start projects on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Accordingly, we invite the corporate world, industries and various national communities to join hands with us in protecting our delicate environment from further degradation. Let us come together and commemorate the International Day Forest, the World Water Day and the Meteorological Day.

I thank you All. 

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