UNDP and UNICEF Zimbabwe Celebrate WED

Thu, 16/06/16

The World Environment Day (WED) 2016 was commemorated in Zimbabwe with a call for youth involvement in tackling environmental challenges facing the country. Held at the Mukuvisi Woodlands in Harare on 10 June 2016, the centrepiece of this year’s WED was the contribution by the Eco-schools programme of Mukuvisi Woodlands Education Unit, through its “Catching them Young” initiative meant to generate youth interest and engagement in the environment.

Credit: UNDP Zimbabwe

This approach is very effective in conserving biodiversity as it engages and nurtures the future custodians of the environment to grow up aware of their surrounding environment and equipped to provide solutions to its sustainable management” said the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Hon. Oppah Muchinguri, in a statement read on her behalf by Mr. Douglas Kunene, a director at the Ministry.

The Minister urged school authorities to integrate the environmental agenda in advocacy and learning programmes. “Schools should engage in recycling programmes, promote and practice electricity and water conservation practices” said the Minister, adding that “schools should be free from litter and waste management facilities such as bins, should be adequately provided in every school to promote waste disposal”.

Describing youth as ‘the future’ the UN Resident Coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli, said that the role of conserving and protecting the environment is a collective responsibility.  “All of us, especially the young, have a role to play in protecting our environment. We need to learn more about the environment to better understand its needs and prevent its further destruction” said the UN Resident Coordinator.

Credit: Thomas Cameron

Mr Parajuli stressed that Zimbabwe is confronted with the huge challenge of environmental degradation caused by deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation as well as air and water pollution.

“This situation is complicated by the risk of climate variability reflected in, for example, the El Nino weather phenomenon that has exacerbated water challenges, leading to one of the worst droughts in the country in decades”.

Zimbabwe is classified as a country with a low forest cover and a very high deforestation rate. At present the Forestry Commission (FC) estimates an annual deforestation rate of 313,000 hectares per year, which is the highest in the Southern Africa region.

The event was organized by the Eco-Schools Programme of Mukuvisi Woodlands, in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, supported by UNICEF and UNDP through its Greening committee as the lead partners. Other collaborating partners included EU, Econet, Nyaradzo Group, World Vision and Total Zimbabwe.

UNICEF featured an exhibition by leading environmental NGOs and groups in Zimbabwe, prize-presentation to Eco-schools as well as entertainment. Represented at the occasion were officials from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, UNDP, UNICEF, NGOS, media and Eco-clubs from about 82 schools.

“This event provides a unique opportunity for young people to explore ways of tackling environmental issues such as waste management, climate change and water scarcity” remarked Mr. Steady Kangata, Environment, Education and Publicity Manager (EMA). “By getting together as peers, they learn from one another”.

Credit: UNDP Zimbabwe

The Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme aims to achieve sustainable environmental management by integrating environmental education into the national curriculum and empowering teachers and learners to implement environmental policies at school level. 

The Eco-Schools Programme follows a model used in over 52 countries worldwide, including South Africa.  The Programme provides school children with hands-on experiences and opportunities to tackle issues and concerns in their own environments. They gain knowledge and develop a positive attitude towards solving environmental problems. 

To date, over 100 educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities, have subscribed to the Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme, signing up and attending one or more events organised by the Mukuvisi Woodlands or starting a Change Project at their school or both.

World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

Credit: UNDP Zimbabwe