🇿🇼 Sustainability: Notes from a development professional

It’s our bad practices which has brought us where we are.

Looking back at my pre-teens, I can probably conclude that I’ve had the passion for caring for the environment from an early age.

Maybe it’s because I have a tiny artistic part of me that has been making me store material like card-boxes for later use and in seventh grade I made a collection of empty aluminum cans and had it on display- which I later on discarded.

From primary school, I also recall a presentation by some juniors who sang on littering and they would chant, “Find the bin and put it in!”

Switching the focus to you, maybe you’ve seen commercials on television in which people will be brushing their teeth and you’re informed to save water; or the sign to also save water on a toothpaste tube; or newspaper articles on issues to do with the need to avoid causing veld fires.

Maybe you’ve also been in a clean-up campaign to pick up litter or sweep pavements- as those are now being done more frequently on the first Friday of each month since the implementation of the National Clean-Up campaign a few years ago; or participated in a tree planting event in December.

Or maybe you’ve seen other commercials on saving electricity in which the need to switch off lights not in use is highlighted. These are examples of trying to attain sustainability, and interestingly, sustainability skills and environmental awareness is a priority in many corporate jobs at graduate level and over as businesses seek to adhere to new legislation.

By definition sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs; and in addition to natural resources we also need social and economic resources.

Sustainability consists of three pillars; namely social, economic and environment.

Three Pillars of Sustainability (University of Alberta
  • Environmental sustainability means that ecological integrity is maintained, all of earth’s environmental systems are kept in balance while natural resources within them are consumed by humans at a rate where they are able to replenish themselves.
  • Economic sustainability means that human communities across the globe are able to maintain their independence and have access to resources that they require, financial and other, to meet their needs. Economic systems are intact and are intact and activities are available to everyone, such as secure sources of livelihood.
  • Social sustainability means that human rights and basic necessities are attainable by all, who have access to enough resources in order to keep their families and communities healthy and secure. Healthy communities have just leaders who ensure personal, labor and cultural rights are respected and all people are protected from discrimination.

These pillars are in actual fact interconnected as I shall explain in due course. 

My main focus on this platform will be to highlight and help address issues to do with environmental sustainability. I’d like to raise awareness on various practices that can be adopted, their importance and share all the information I have with regards to the various sectors in the field, ranging from sustainability at home, workplace and industry.

This move to attain sustainability requires everyone to be on board, and I shall be highlighting more on that with time.

I would like you to know that according to section 73.1 of the Zimbabwe’s constitution of 2013, you and I have environmental rights which reads as follows:

1. Every person has the right–

a. to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and

b. to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that–

i. prevent pollution and ecological degradation;

ii. promote conservation; and

iii. secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development.

And I am here to support and reinforce that right through sharing the knowledge and notes I have acquired over the years as a climate justice activist and student of sustainability.

The end goal here is not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing but to toil each and everyone of us towards more sustainable lifestyles and change.

Notes I will be sharing here twice a month if done right may inspire you to take action on some way to save the environment and preserve the future for those who will come after us.

One thing I have to reiterate is that: You’re not too small to make a difference, what’s important is to have a changed mind and new way of seeing things that will trigger you to make change.

Sustainability is not just an environmental issue, as a development professional I see it from a justice perspective where we are not prejudicing future generations which deserve their own fair chance on earth.

As a development professional I have vast interests is social development, zeroing in on poverty eradication, human empowerment, reducing inequalities and promoting social inclusion- with a strong belief that all life matters.

Climate change driven natural disasters such as cyclone Idai affected the poor communities most of which rely on subsistence agriculture, this is despite the fact that climate change is driven by many different factors and people. When the rich pollute and the poor suffer that becomes a serious justice issue.

Furthermore natural disasters affect social development. For instance, in a country like ours in which more than 50% of the population make their living from agricultural activities; during times of drought, floods or cyclones- poor harvests will be yielded; and for people with no other skills poverty levels will rise…economic inequalities will increase and more people will suffer from hunger or sickness; some parents won’t be able to send their children to school; some will marry off their young daughters and this will deprivethe young girls of their childhood in all honesty it’ll lead to a self-reinforcing cycle of problems.

Economically the costs of natural disasters can be in billions with cyclone Idai alone destroying over a billion dollars of infrastructure and economic opportunities.

Devastating as this may be we have to acknowledge that since we are problems in the first place we can also be solutions.

We have been cutting down trees for various reasons for years, artisanal mining on river banks, we have normalised polluting and wasteful use of resources all hurting the environment. We are the source of change however we need notes from ordinary people like us to move ourselves towards solutions.

As one of you, as an ordinary day to day person I believe my notes will help in getting the message across.

Join me on this journey, if you have any thing to add please click here or post a comment in the comment box.

Until next week

Keep safe and please remember to stick to the Covid-19 regulations.


Rumbidzai Beverley Rugoyi

African °| Climate change activist °| Development practitioner °| Introvert °| Motivational writer °| Social entrepreneur


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