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Greening the economy an obligation, not a choice

Having finally decided it was time to take up the “Green Economy” stance at the 2011 environmental expo, the Environment and Natural Resources Management ministry this year upped its tempo. Environment minister Francis Nhema announced government plans to implement policies that would encourage companies to operate in an environmentally-friendly manner.

“Environmental issues cut across all societal as well as business divide…greening the economy is key to the country as we move towards a global trend of high levels of consumption,” said Nhema at the 2012 expo held recently in Harare. This year’s expo ran under the theme: “Greening the Economy — Addressing Behaviour, Energy and Climate Change.”

Nhema echoed the 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Green Economy Report, which says: “Greening the economy is not generally a drag on growth but rather a new engine of growth; that is a net generator of decent jobs, and that it is also a vital strategy for the elimination of persistent poverty.”

According to the web-based Wikipedia, “A green economy is one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks.”

An ecologically green economy is one that is based on sustainable development, that is, “we must create an economic system that respects the integrity of ecosystems and ensures the resilience of life supporting systems,Wikipedia goes on to say”.

Talk of greening business operations is one that has always been met by a lot of resistance as most business people continue to see environmental protection and economic growth as incompatible. This explains why the business sector appears not too keen on taking up environmental issues seriously.

But as environmental woes facing the nation continue to be exposed, most of which have been blamed on the manner in which most businesses have been operating, many are starting to realise greening their ventures is an obligation, not a choice. Talk of a green economy has fast become a catch line for most local businesses. The question that arises however is: Are local companies serious about greening their businesses or is it all just another marketing gimmick?

Take Versapak; a company whose main business is the manufacturing of expanded and extruded polystyrene packaging, which are a cause for much concern as they have significantly added to the country’s litter woes. Are they following through their products’ life cycle?

Or Delta Beverages, whose business growth has seen equal growth of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) empty bottles and empty cans on the streets that are left lying there, creating quite an eyesore. Are they doing what they need to do to make sure their operations are environmentally sustainable?

Because litter is left uncollected for ages, most people have opted to burn it, which, besides affecting people’s health, further exacerbates the global warming and climate change threat.

This is not however to suggest that greening the economy is a preserve for the likes of Delta, Econet and Versapak as anyone in any sector whose operations has an impact on the environment needs to get involved. This encompasses sectors such as mining, fisheries, manufacturing, transport,  agriculture, hospitality, tourism, public service and everyone in between, as each has as duty to be responsible stewards and ensure future generations can also have an environment to talk about.

For feedback, email cmasara@standard.co.zw

 

Econet wireless not doing much about discarded recharge cards

 

Take Econet Wireless for instance. Although the mobile phone company has had an environmental policy for a long time, and claim on their website to be doing all they can, what are they doing to minimise the impact on the environment of their, say, carelessly discarded used-up juice cards that are scattered all over?

 

Being one of the biggest and most profitable companies in Zimbabwe, we would naturally expect more from them. Efforts to get a comment from Econet proved fruitless, as did with most companies, as their telephones went unanswered or “the right people to talk to” were said to be out of town.

Policy frameworks for going green must be put in place and be enforced

 

To ensure that companies do not mistake talk of “going green” for just rhetoric that is meant to make them look good, policy frameworks that promote green growth need to be put in place as a matter of urgency. Once they are in place, it should be mandatory for each and every single company to incorporate them into their every activity. Our national leaders should also be seen to be champions of green issues on both the local and international stage, and be able to walk the talk.

All the companies that had until now chosen to take the “going green” issue lightly might need to be advised that unless they start taking it seriously and holistically implement it in their operations, their future on the global business arena does not look too bright.

“It is of paramount importance for businesses to operate with minimum environmental impact, carbon footprint and increased awareness of environmental implications of their operations,” said Nhema at the 2012 environment expo. We just hope this was not all talk Minister.

 

 

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