Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has bemoaned the lack of policy direction on environmental protection in the maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Lazarus Chakwera in Parliament last Friday.
Leader of UDF in Parliament Nedson Poya said while government has showed commitment to, among other things reducing poverty and introducing compulsory primary education, the SONA fell short of coming clear on policies to ensure the protection of the environment as the country pursues sustainable development.
“Environmental protection should underpin our development agenda. We cannot achieve sustainable growth if we do not have a clear environmental protection policy and the President’s SONA did not come out clearly what the government plans to do to ensure that we are protecting the environment as we pursue our development goals,” said Poya.
He said activities earmarked to spur the country to sustainable economic growth cannot succeed if no attention is given to protecting the environment.
“We cannot achieve growth in agriculture if we do not address issues of soil erosion and climate change. We cannot achieve success in tourism if we have rivers stinking from industrial waste or if our cities are dirty. Activities like agriculture, mining, tourism and health all hinge on environmental protection,” Poya added.
Concurring with Poya, legislator for Chikwawa North, Owen Chomanika said it is imperative for the government to prioritize issues of the environment to ensure that current development efforts are not infringing on future generations.
Reacting to the comments, National Coordinator for the Civil Society Network on Climate Change, Julius Ng’oma said his network agrees with the legislator that the SONA did not place much emphasis on issues of environmental conservation.
“The president articulated how government plans to strengthen other sectors including alignment with the SDGs but the statement was empty on how the government will advance environmental protection and management issues including climate change,” Ng’oma said.
He said government should remember that economic growth and prosperity requires a health and well managed ecosystem as such there is a need for government to rethink how it views environmental and climate change issues in pursuing various development agenda.
Members of Parliament and various sections of the Malawian society continue to make input on President Chakwera’s maiden SONA which he delivered under the theme ‘Restoring Warmth to the Heart of Africa.