Sustainable development has over time become one of the goals the world aims at obtaining as soon as 2030, and that is only a decade away. It is for that reason that the United Nations has adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals through the UNDP. Sustainable development has been defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This implies that despite of the life that we are living today, we must at all times put into consideration the fact that future generations still need to stay within the same world and on the same earth.
As a result, in order for us to protect the future and to ensure that it stays safe, we must protect the environment. The environment has been simply defined as man and his surroundings. This means everything that man relates with; the water, the land, the air, the vegetation etc. Although we may not notice, our day to day personal habits greatly impact on the environment either positively or negatively. Good human health is possible because of a healthy environment and where the environment is sickly, even the life cannot be sustained for long.
Many times when we speak of the future, we think of our children, their dream professions and we strive to make sure that they have a life that is bright. What hardly crosses our minds is the thought of whether or not the environment will ably sustain them, their needs and their ability to happily exist. Over time, many human activities have led to climate change with disasters like landslides, drought, extremely high temperatures, floods, the death of aquatic life etc. taking a toll on many parts of the world. This is as a result of the tiny things that we do, ignorantly or knowingly and should we continue doing these things, science predicts that global warming will rise to two degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will harm human civilization, which is only 16 years away from now.
It is the deforestation, bush burning, swamp reclamation, waste pollution, plastic production, burning of fossils etc. and some of activities that we adopt with the intent of making money that actually harm the environment. Dumping a polythene bag on the road side may seem a simple thing, but it could cost your grandchildren a safe place to live in.
Let us intentionally adopt life habits that ensure that the beauty of the earth and environment is preserved. Let`s make sure that landslides do not have to occur within Uganda because we have adopted farming skills that do not encourage mudslides. Together let us dispose of rubbish and wastes in a way that does not compromise the health of mother earth.
Even the economy cannot survive when the environment has been mutilated in every way. Agriculture is made difficult when the earth that should be farmed is filled with plastic and polythene which takes approximately 30 years to decompose. Scientific research has proven that it would take 1 million years for glass to decompose, 450years for plastic bottles, 450 years for disposable diapers etc. Sadly, it has been estimated that at least 600 tones of plastics are consumed every day in Uganda and most of them are disposed of in irresponsibly. This when translated to kilograms in 600,000 kilograms of plastic, used in Uganda on a daily basis. No wonder many of our water channels are filled with plastic bags and many of the trenches are clogged.
There is a common saying in Uganda, mainly central Uganda and it says “gavumenti etuyambe” which translated means, “the government should help us.” But it is the high time that we realized that together, we are the government. It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure that the environment actually remains safe and healthy. Do not dump rubbish because KCCA is there to keep Kampala clean. Do not simply cut down trees because NEMA is there to ensure the environment stays safe. It is our collective responsibility. NEMA and KCCA are only bodies and it is with our support and collaboration that these bodies can ensure that we see the Uganda we want to live in.
One of the reasons as to why many of the rainy seasons in Uganda are dreaded is due to swamp reclamation. As a business minded person, your major concern could be where and how to get the money, paying little attention to the impact of your activities, which could include swamp reclamation, has on the environment. Within Wakiso division, every rainy season is followed by floods, with many roads being immersed in water because the swamps and drainage channels have either been reclaimed or clogged with plastic. As of 2017, 700 kilometers of wetlands had been degraded in Uganda for many reasons including, agriculture, settlement, establishment of businesses etc.
Little by little, these acts have negatively affected our environment and unless we put an end to it, the future may not be safe for our children. So let us ALL join hands with the UNDP to ensure that SDGs 2 (zero hunger), 3(Good health and well-being), 6(Clean water and sanitation), 7(Affordable and clean energy), 13(Climate Action), 14(Life below water) and 15(Life on land) are met.
Protect the environment to enable the future.