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Environment: Time to enforce new pact

Saturday March 16 2019

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The international community made a commitment to intensify efforts to save the world from environmental degradation and especially deploy technology, data and innovation to sustain the ecosystem. At the end of the five-day UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi this week, representatives of some 170 countries prepared a blueprint for change in which they undertook to deliver a new model of development that cares for the environment.

We hope the blueprint will translate into action. This is not the first time such declarations are made. Every often, the international community makes commitments and sets targets to deliver on given programmatic areas. Hardly, however, are they ever actualised. Which is why there is general apprehension about the lofty global parleys.

Notwithstanding that, we take the positive view that the exigencies of the day have created the imperative for action. That given the prevailing challenges arising from poor management of the environment, governments must change their outlook. Climate change and withering impacts, depleted environments, receding coastlines and polluted water masses painfully illustrate the dangers of debasing the environment. Indeed, the planet has reached its limit beyond which is catastrophe.

President Uhuru Kenyatta used the platform to make a commitment to increase Kenya’s forest cover from the current 7 per cent to 10 per cent. This is vital. Kenya has suffered serious environmental challenges resulting from poor resource management. Standing out as a monument of shame is the Mau Forest, once a massive greenery, that has nearly been reduced to ashes through political machinations.

Lake Victoria, the largest water mass in the continent, is choking with hyacinth brought about by reckless emission of effluents. Consequently, aquatic resources have died. At the Coast, encroachment of beaches by unscrupulous developers has damaged the shorelines. Examples of such environmental plunder abound.

Kenya must join other nations to implement strategic actions that promote environment conservation. We must fight greed, selfishness, inertia and short-sightedness that undermine proper environmental management.

We have the chance to turn the tide. And the moment for action is now. Political goodwill is paramount in pushing the environment agenda.