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Environ challenges must be managed better - 11 March 2008
Pretoria – Poor countries must manage their environment better if they are to survive, says President Thabo Mbeki.
In his message on Commonwealth Day, held on Monday, the President said: “Better environmental management is not just a matter of preserving our natural heritage. It is a matter of survival.”
He said the African countries rely mainly on agriculture and the extraction of mineral and biological resources to grow their economies.
“Climate variations already pose a serious threat to livelihoods and economic development in much of our continent,” President Mbeki said, adding that this would be aggravated by climate change over the next few decades
Mr Mbeki said issues such as the negative elements of globalisation, conflict and instability, the burden of disease and environmental degradation are some of the major factors threatening the fragile progress in economic, social and political development that many African countries have achieved over the past few decades.
“What is needed now, and very urgently, is respect for the ecological processes that have made the planet our home.
“These processes shape the climate, cleanse the air and water, regulate water flows, recycle essential elements, regenerate the soil and enable ecosystems to renew themselves, giving all humanity the possibility to achieve sustainable utilisation of nature’s biodiversity.”
He said together with raising awareness of the vulnerability of these processes, countries also need to educate citizens on how to use renewable resources in a sustainable manner.
These resources include cultivated land, wild and domesticated animal and plant species, forests, rangelands, and the marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Mr Mbeki said that the depletion of non-renewable resources like minerals, oil, gas and coal must be avoided noting that they must be extended for the benefit of future generations.
“Recycling of used materials, more economic use of our resources and greater utilisation of renewable substitutes must constitute an important part of our armoury of responses.”
Me Mbeki added that we sustain and accelerate the advance against poverty in the countries of the south, and continue to improve the standard of living in the countries of the north.
“We must, together, continuously address the challenge of the protection of the environment.
"We in the commonwealth can make a vital contribution to the achievement of the urgent goals encapsulated in the theme, if we adopt and implement policies that respond to this task practically.”
He said: “this year’s celebrations for the day would achieve real meaning only if, on this day, we renew our pledge that we will, at all times, act in a manner that says 'to guarantee our future, we will protect the environment’."
Under the theme, The Environment - Our Future, Commonwealth Day promotes the understanding of global issues, international cooperation and the work of the Commonwealth to improve the lives of citizens.
The day is commemorated internationally on the second Monday in March every year.
By Bathandwa Mbola – BuaNews