South African climate catastrophes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has come under the spotlight during World Environmental Day on Saturday.
This year’s theme is “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore”. The global host for the day to highlight the importance of ecosystem restoration is Pakistan.
In South Africa, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment held an event in Pretoria to commemorate the country’s 25-year relationship with the United Nations Development Programme.
On 5 June every year, nature empaths across the globe celebrate World Environment Day. It is commemorated annually to encourage the preservation of the planet.
Since 1974, World Environment Day has been a catalyst to engage governments, businesses and citizens to address pressing environmental challenges.
This year’s theme focuses on healthy ecosystems that can counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity. It supports the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent.
SA’s environmental champions say the country’s ecosystem is being destroyed by large conglomerates, but little is done to reverse the deadly impact on the environment.
“Climate catastrophes threaten to derail all the work that is being done in terms of biodiversity, preservation and conservation. I think the SA government and corporations should use this time to reflect on how we have threatened our ecosystem over the past couple of years. Looking at the past year, we have had the oil leak into the Umbilo River, accessive amounts of medical waste that has accumulated as a result of the pandemic. It’s so important that our government recognises the biodiversity in this area, especially the fynbos region and understands that they’re under threat and work towards protecting our resources before it’s too late,” says Climate and Energy campaigner at Greenpeace Africa Thandile Chinavanu.
Regional Programme Coordinator for Southern Africa at the United Nations Environmental Programme, Cecilia Njenga says South Africa’s biodiversity is being threatened by mining and industrial development.
Speaking at the official Environment Day event organised by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment held in Pretoria, Njenga says the world needs to stop exploiting nature and begin to restore it before it is too late.
“There is an increasing recognition that healing from his pandemic is directly linked to healing our planet. We face a triple emergency, biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution. The degradation of the natural world is already undermining the bell being of 3.2 billion people. SA is home to over 95 000 known species making it the third most biodiverse culture in the world, yet its natural resources are greatly threatened by human actions, including, mining, farming and industrial development.”
SA joins the world in celebrating World Environment Day:
SA’s relationship with UNDP
Meanwhile, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy has paid tribute to South Africa’s 25-year relationship with the United Nations Development Programme. Over the years, they teamed up on over 26 projects to address critical issues that relate to the protection of the natural environment, with a focus on climate change. Creecy says this year’s theme is pertinent to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
“World Environment Day comes as the global community, under the leadership of the United Nations, seeks to focus our attention on the urgent need to restore and reset the relationship between people and nature. This year’s World Environment Day theme, re-imagine, re-create, restore, is extremely appropriate to continue building on the foundation we have already established and as entry to the UN decade of ecosystem restoration.”
Minister Creecy also highlighted the importance of restoring the ecosystem: