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HOW DO WE MAKE ENVIRONMENTALISM A PRIORITY IN OUR AFRICAN ECONOMY?

By Fontoh Desmond Abinwi, Okwelians Fellow 2021

The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.”
— Zeno ~ 450 BC (from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers).

The pandemic has offered a great potential of reset, rethinking, and improving conditions needed to encourage environmentalism as a priority in our African economy.  Backtracking , reflecting, connecting, and acting together as a unified force will make our planet a safe space for all.   Promote Environmentalism.

Reflection: The planet is home to multiple groups of plants and animals that live on land, in the water, and up in the air, yet we all manage and struggle to live harmoniously most of the time. Regrettably, the beauty of nature is slowly fading as human activities continue to wreak havoc on the environment. Making environmentalism a priority in our current economy is now unavoidable.

The Concept of Environmentalism is used as a general term to refer to concerns for the environment and particularly actions or advocacy to limit negative human impacts on the environment.[i] Usually, the links between environmentalism and the economy are manifold: the environment provides resources to the economy and acts as a sink for emissions and waste. In the concept of environmentalism and economy, natural resources are essential inputs for production in many sectors, while production and consumption also lead to pollution and other pressures on the environment. Poor environmental quality, in turn, affects economic growth and well-being by lowering the quantity and quality of resources or due to health impacts, etc.[ii]


Further, many countries all over the world are experiencing rapid urbanization. Technology is also a big part of our lives and economy, which is not always environment-friendly. It’s the main reason why making environmentalism a priority, has arrived quite earlier than expected because the planet is changing at a rate never seen in the past. The population has also exploded exponentially. Several billions of people compete for the world’s natural resources that are sadly finite. The time will come when we’ll run out of non-renewable energy sources and live in an inhospitable planet and economy that will make daily living doubly more challenging.


Most progressive countries use fossil fuels because they are convenient to use but there are other renewable sources such as Wind energy, Geothermal energy, Solar energy, Biomass energy, and Hydropower which we can also tap into that won’t harm the environment. Not only are they safe to use, but they are also sustainable. The environment should not always suffer for the sake of economic prosperity but one sector can’t do it all alone.

 
In this context, making environmentalism a priority in our current economy is more than necessary to ensure a sustainable and green economy. Before moving forward, it is worth noting that you can live without food for a while but you cannot live even a minute without clean air and water. Awareness about environmentalism is an essential feature of a proper life today. We must continue to create consciousness about the environment and teach it at school and college levels[iii]. Governments, private institutions, civil societies, and individuals should take new measures to make environmentalism a priority, set sustainability goals and solemn pledges for a safer environment. Major stakeholders should always adopt integrated, participatory, and down-top approaches in decision making and policy implementation, promoting youth advocacy and making their voices heard. Further, encouraging good governance, environmental education, and indigenous knowledge in environmentalism solutions must be made a priority. Inclusive and collaborative action will continue to trigger conscious behaviors in environmentalism locally and globally.


The solution: Promoting Environmental education in school curriculums is necessary, this will permit young kids to grow up with the spirit of Environmentalism and constantly applying these teachings in all sectors especially the economic sector. Their conscious behavior should be transformed to promote change and live with the spirit of Environmentalism. In the present day, environmentalism plays a great role in economic growth.  Public and private sectors need to adapt and strengthen their efforts to encourage collaboration and a unified thought as the damage is already extensive, and we need all the help we can get to turn things around for the better. According, to (EnvEco studies 2018), it was estimated that collaborative economies can save up to 7% of household budget spending and reduce waste by 20% if the market operates under favorable conditions.


The employment effects of making environmentalism a priority in economies also have a positive outcome on the overall economy. Environmentalism measures often promote labor-intensive sectors and replace imports with domestic value-added, the net employment results of environmentalism are often also positive. Various studies have shown that ambitious environmentalism targets can create more jobs, for example, due to the expansion of renewable energy or efforts to increase energy efficiency. Measures to increase (raw) material efficiency can also have significant positive employment consequences. Also, Investments in integrated environmental technologies and efficiency measures can generally lead to many cost savings at the operational level.


 Again, strengthening environmental policies and good governance can curb the negative feedback from the economy on the environment and vice-versa. How effective and transformative the environmental policies and good governance are, and whether they generate a net benefit or a net cost to society is the subject of much debate and depends on the way they are designed and implemented. Environmental policies can contribute to a structural shift in economies thereby promoting growth and jobs associated with cleaner, more efficient products, services, and processes. Lastly, cost-effective policy interventions could be adopted in the short and medium terms to support sustainable development goals.

Thus, to conclude, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” Together we can make our dream of environmentalism a reality and stand in a unifying voice to serve Mother Nature. Change starts with you, always think locally and act globally.

Sources:

https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/economy-environment

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10640-020-00493-2

https://www.oecd.org/economy/greeneco/global-forum-on-environment-2016.htm

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6700

https://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/2010/synthesis/synthesis/chapter8.xhtml

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/studies.htm

https://www.pnas.org/content/116/12/5233


[i] (Science Direct 2018).

[ii] (OECD 2016).

[iii] (Economictimes2015).

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