On World Environment Day, Restore Land, Build Drought Resilience And Combat Desertification

On World Environment Day, Restore Land, Build Drought Resilience And Combat Desertification

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ON WORLD Environment Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon the government and other critical stakeholders to restore land, and combat desertification.

In 2024, World Environment Day is being commemorated under the theme “Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience.”

The theme casts a spotlight on ending land degradation, restoring blighted landscapes and ecosystems and reversing the massive damage that humanity has done to earth.

ZLHR stands in solidarity and salutes some environmental human rights defenders, who are on the frontlines and risking everything to protect people, their homes, communities and the planet.

They risk their lives to speak up and take action to protect the well-being of their communities and the rights associated with the environment and land.

Across the world, humanity is grappling with an environmental crisis of unprecedented proportions marked by the intensification of the triple planetary crisis, where climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, pollution, destruction of wetlands, biodiversity loss and drought are negatively impacting the enjoyment of human rights for billions of people. Notwithstanding the environmental challenges being experienced, land restoration can reverse the creeping tide of land degradation, drought and desertification.

In light of this emergency, it is imperative that the human right of all to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is globally recognised.

It is encouraging that most countries have incorporated the right to a healthy environment in their Constitutions and laws.

Recognising the right to a healthy environment plays a crucial role in the realisation of environmental justice for communities exposed to harmful, threatening, degrading and hazardous environments.

While Zimbabwe took the progressive step of guaranteeing environmental rights in its Constitution enacted in 2013, ZLHR is increasingly worried about perennial violations of this fundamental right by both state and non-state actors.

In recent years, ZLHR has noted with great concern the destruction of wetlands in the country owing to unlawful infrastructural development authorised by both central and local government including the so-called land barons, agricultural activity, mineral extraction, solid and liquid waste disposal, fresh water diversion and deforestation.

ZLHR has intervened in stopping some reckless enterprises from discharging hazardous effluent water containing cyanide into utility water sources, which puts the lives of several people in danger.

In some places, communities have benefitted from ZLHR’s legal assistance services when faced with forced displacement from their ancestral land to pave way for exploitation of natural resources by some greedy and exploitative mining companies.

Central and local governments have a constitutional obligation to protect and preserve the environment and uphold everyone’s environmental rights, ensuring that the environment is not harmful to people’s health or well-being.

Any non-compliance with legal obligations of maintaining the environment by ensuring that it is clean at all times threatens people’s constitutionally protected environmental and health-related rights.

It is fundamental to understand that environmental rights are crucial to sustainable development and the fulfilment of other human rights, especially socio-economic rights.

In order to restore land, build drought resilience and combat desertification; ZLHR calls upon government, private sector, civil society and citizens across the country to;

  • Make the right to a healthy environment a reality for all people and communities and protect and preserve the environment;

 

  • Adopt sustainable extractive practices to protect the environment;

  • Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;

  • Secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development;

  • Protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations;

ENDS

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Kodzero/Amalungelo House
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
Email: info@zlhr.org
www.zlhr.org.zw
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