The World Environment Day, June 5th every year provides an opportunity to review any activities that relate to our environment. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Beat Plastic Pollution for a Clean and Green Zambia” with a tag line “if you can’t reuse it, refuse it”.

It is also a chance to check whether initiatives to counter any negative environmental trends are bearing fruit. The Permanent Secretary Hon Trevor Kaunda reconfirmed to the nation, Government’s commitment to safeguarding the environment.

As a matter of background, The World Environment Day was established by the UN general assembly as a unique way of marking the UN General Assembly conference that was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. This day is held all over the world. Expositions are held throughout the week leading up to June 5th. This is to advocate for environmental protection and to call for political action on particular environmental matters of concern in the environment.

This important day helps to promote the ways that can be adopted to improve the environment, for instance investing in more green technologies such as the recycling industry. There is an immense disparity in the way this crucial day is celebrated in different countries. Among these ways are street rallies, parades, tree planting, concerts and environment cleanup campaigns. While this day is celebrated worldwide, the United Nations World Environment day is not a public holiday and celebrating it will not impair on the daily running/operations of businesses.

As a matter of the present, World Environment Day is that one special day that gives an opportunity to everyone, anyone around the world to take ownership and be aware of their environment, then actively engage in the protection of our surroundings to sustain not only our well-being but that of other living organisms too.

Every year, the Environment Program of the United States develops a theme which is used globally to raise awareness and galvanize support from governments, organizations, and individuals from all over the world. The message is intended to ask all concerned persons to focus more on the threats that the environment faces globally and think of ways that can help to resolve these threats. As the theme suggest, this year’s edition of World Environment Day commemoration unites the world to combat single-use of plastics which leads to massive pollution worldwide. You might be wondering why this theme, well, below are snippets of facts about how we use plastic and end up with huge piles of plastic waste:

  • Every year the world uses up to 5 trillion plastic bags.
  • Each year, at least 13 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
  • In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole of last century.
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable.
  • We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute globally.
  • Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate.

Aren’t these enough to unite us against this major environmental problem? “Beat Plastic Pollution” for this year’s commemoration is simply very timely. The theme for World Environment Day commemoration, urges governments, industries, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastics that are polluting our water bodies – thereby damaging aquatic life and threatening human health by disturbing the sanity of the environment, contributing to carbon into the atmosphere once they are burnt leading to climate change in the end.

Ichipululu wishes to mention that 2018 is special, the theme for this year came at a time when the Government of the republic of Zambia has embarked on a campaign that speaks very directly to waste management in a bid to ensure sanity in our environment countrywide, this is highly appreciated in as much as it is long overdue. In reference here is the recently relaunched Make Zambia, Clean, Green and Healthy Campaign, we believe this is more than an opportunity to kill a lot of unsustainable practices in just one year, we can do this.

Commemorations have come and gone, we are glad to note the strong stakeholder engagement which made this event more colorful. A lot of organizations that deal with issues to do with the environment made the event more interesting and we can see that we can do this as Zambia. The venue was Levy Park Mall whose staff must be commended for the beautiful surroundings in which the celebration took place.  The commemoration had strong awareness on plastic pollution, where it starts from, where it ends up and what we can do to reduce, reuse as well as recycle plastic waste in Zambia. They were exhibitions of how we can sustainably manage plastic waste in our country.

One of the qualities of a responsible Zambian to us is one who is willing to learn adaptive ways of dealing with problems that surround us, one who takes actions even when others chose to be on the sidelines. While the government is making good and progressive decisions related to plastic waste management, industries, civil society organizations as well as the private sector need to start acting. We can choose to join the team of actors and talk less. We appeal to the government to take a strong leadership role so that we don’t go back to the usual dirty streets and compounds in our country.

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