Stockholm +50: A healthy planet for the prosperity of all-our responsibility, our opportunity

Article by Francis Kenyatta

The world has been experiencing a myriad of challenges from time immemorial. Do you still remember colonization or World War I and II?  What about the global financial crisis that hit the world between the years 2008 and 2010? And just recently, the world was brought to its knees by the COVID-19 which brought the world’s economy to a standstill. All of these challenges have hit the world one after another, but humanity has always found ways to bounce back having learned valuable lessons such as the respect of human rights, financial planning and strengthening health systems. 

With all the knowledge about shared humanity and international cooperation we have gained over thousands of years, you would think that when faced with an apocalyptic crisis, the human race will band together to solve it. One would hope that when faced with irrefutable evidence that our planet was slowly dying, we would do all we can to right the wrongs that have led us down this unfortunate path. But that does not seem like the case with the climate crisis.  

The climate crisis is negatively impacting the world; and from Madagascar to Mali to Kenya we have seen the trail of destruction and death it has left in its wake. Month after month and year after year, communities across the world are hit by extreme weather events. It is time for the world to urgently devise sustainable solutions that will prevent the occurrence of similar catastrophes.  As many campaigns have put it before, ‘The time is now, or It is now or never.’

A girl carries water home. Due to the drought in Somalia women and girls have to walk longer distances to fetch water. Photo: United Nations.

Can we achieve a healthy planet?

Living in a healthy environment encompasses many factors, for instance, accessibility to clean air, water, proper sanitation, and a clean working environment. There are many organizations, social groups, and other entities that are tirelessly working to mitigate the environmental hazard we created for the current and the next generations. These efforts should not only focus on climate financing for the projects but also mobilize for greater participation or inclusivity and in this case, target the largest population group in the world – the youth.

The political systems and governing bodies need to set a clear framework that includes the youth in top rank decision making and getting to respect recommendations given by them. Furthermore, it is of utmost importance to include the voices of communities at the forefront of the climate crisis. Sustainable activities will encourage many of them to practice the same at the grassroots levels.

Living a healthy lifestyle may be linked to how educated an individual is as far as health is concerned. One of the major causes of living in an unhealthy environment is littering. One study highlighted that amongst the main contributors to plastic pollution is littering.  Plastic waste dumped into water bodies affects human health. Therefore, having a well-structured education system and putting in place communication materials that teach individuals about the consequences of littering and proper waste disposal mechanisms, will lead to better health in the long run.

Marura Primary School children at a tree planting event in Muranga County. Photo: Kipepeo Green Heritage/ Jayne Mache

The covid-19 and Climate change.

The global corona virus has left the world with many lessons, one of them being that life is ‘fragile’ and needs ‘care’. In this context, the catastrophes in the world such as drought and climate change need urgent care to prevent further occurrences. It is unfortunate that the climate crisis is looming and needs solid attention as it may bring a crisis equal to or greater than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bearing the fact that a catastrophe in some cases, may not be limited by boundaries, all nations of the world should collaborate and fight climate change by adopting sustainable practices. Recent studies have linked COVID-19 rates to environmental pollution causes such as air pollution. 

Scientists have in the past highlighted that some disease-causing elements or organisms thrive in certain environments. Having a healthy world may, in this case, call for actions such as massive tree planting that will act as carbon sinks to prevent or reduce the rate at which human beings consume polluted air.  There are a number of organizations such as Kipepeo Green Heritage that have sustainable tree planting strategies which when implemented by many other bodies, in the long run, will lead to a green and fruity world with sufficient carbon sinks that will absorb the dirty air that could have caused diseases.

Enhancing Global Sustainable Goals

The United Nation’s call for the world to collaborate in achieving the set global goals has led to the emergence of related practices. To  achieve sustainable development goals faster, project founders should have a clear vision that will tackle the world’s economic, social and environmental problems. Some of the problems affecting the world are poverty and inaccessibility to better health services in developing countries. Thanks to Non-Profit Organizations such as Kipepeo Green Heritage for developing practices like planting  of fruit trees, that when harvested, will give fruits to improve nutrition and still act as carbon sinks, meet the health and nutritional wealth of communities and empower through value addition and employment creation. This shows that development projects should have a framework that will guide their projects into deriving solutions to the major challenges that local communities or citizens face.

Outcomes of the Stockholm +50 meeting.

The theme for the Stockholm +50 meeting is “A Healthy Planet for the Prosperity of all- our responsibility, our opportunity’’ is interesting as it is perceived that discussions and outcomes would be within this context. It is hoped that the meeting will present the success that the world has had in terms of having a healthy environment for human beings.

We expect that governing bodies, Institutions and researchers will present data with facts to support the efforts made to reduce carbon emission. Furthermore, we expect to hear from the beneficiaries of past financial aids that were directed towards sustainable projects. In this case, we would be glad to hear if the funds assisted, what they can pride themselves for the project’s achievement and the challenges they faced as far as funding is concerned. Also, we expect the youth representatives in the meeting to showcase and present the recommendations given to them by their representative countries, groups, or regions. The recommendations or proposals by the youth groups should clearly indicate their role in helping UNEP achieve its environmental goals, the past challenges they have faced in terms of climate change mitigation and/or adaptation practices implementations, and their vision for a ‘green and climate-smart future.’

Kenya Forest Service and Kipepeo Green Heritage staff plant a tree at Mt Elgon in Kitale, Trans Nzoia county. Photo: Kipepeo Green Heritage/ Jayne Mache.

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