The Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, made these remarks while officiating the opening ceremony of the Green Growth Platform (GGP), which took place from 31 July – 1, August 2019 in Dodoma, Tanzania. The event, which was organised as UONGOZI Institute’s sixth GGP, deliberated under the theme “Promoting Forest Management for Sustainable Water Resource in Tanzania.”
“Tanzania has a total of 48 million hectares of forest, being administered under various programmes. However, statistics show that deforestation is taking place drastically and without immediate measures we may be left without any forests,” insisted H.E. Suluhu Hassan.
The Vice President further noted, “The pace of deforestation and depletion of natural vegetation is said to be very high. Statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism show that Tanzania loses 372,816 hectares of forests every year. This is mainly due to the influx of human activities around forests that are not managed under any legal framework.”
Also, “According to a report published by the Sokoine University of Agriculture in 2017 the rate of deforestation has reached 469,420 hectares annually. This is an increase of almost 100,000 hectares in two years. Forestry and water resources can, therefore, deplete or disappear at a faster rate if we do not protect and use them efficiently,” H.E. Suluhu cautioned.
According to H.E. Suluhu, a situation like this is not conducive for the actualisation of sustainable water and forestry resources. Moreover, she noted that the depletion of forests can also cause huge losses to our economy.
“Official figures show that the contribution of these resources to the national economy is between 4 and 5 per cent annually. This figure is still relatively low and does not show the realistic contribution of these resources to the development and lives of Tanzanians,” she said.
On the other hand, the Vice President also noted that water resources are also depleting very quickly in comparison to our uses.
“Unsustainable agriculture, unplanned constructions, burning of charcoal, chopping of wood, illegal extraction of logs and uncontrolled livestock movements have been causing great effects to the existence of these resources,” stressed H.E. Suluhu.
However, the Vice President did commend the platform as a tool that will assist the Government in building a sustainable economy for the goal of improving the lives of its people by utilising the available resources.
“I believe that the platform will propel sustainable and inclusive development which will include environmental protection and better use of our natural resources for the betterment of the current and future generations,” she said.
“The platform is an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and experience about the best uses of our natural resources. It is also an ideal platform for stakeholders to analyse the relationship between the respective sectors of forestry and water and to get innovative in identifying the best ways to improve the protection and management of these sectors for the sustainable development of our nation,” H.E. Suluhu highlighted.
Also present, Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Environment and Union Affairs), Hon. George Boniface Simbachawene (MP), said that environmental destruction and poverty reinforce each other. Therefore, it is every citizen’s responsibility to press for environmental protection and good management of water and forestry resources for current and future development.
“The nation’s Environmental Policy that we are all responsible for its implementation, outlines the challenges in environmental protection and conservation. These are land degradation, deforestation, extinction of plant and animal species, lack of clean water in urban and rural areas, decrease in quality of water systems and increase of environmental pollution in urban and rural areas,” said Minister Simbachawene.
He elucidated that these challenges hinder the Government’s efforts towards poverty reduction and eventually, affect the wellbeing of the people.
Forests and water are among the key sectors that have a significant contribution to the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These two sectors also have a direct linkage with other sectors such as energy, livestock, fisheries, agriculture and industries.
On his part, the CEO of UONGOZI Institute, Prof. Joseph Semboja, said that the GGP was established in 2012 with the objective to gather leaders and different stakeholders to promote sustainable development and inclusive development that consider environmental protection and efficient use of resources for current and future generations.
According to Prof. Semboja, the Platform is segmented into two parts. The first part is the forum, which brings together different stakeholders to discuss various issues related to environmental protection and sustainable development of our nation. The second part is the field visits, where participants of the forum get to explore nature reserves and water sources, to see and to learn first-hand: what the reality is, what is being done, what the results are, the challenges and how they are solved.
“This approach allows participants to receive and internalise the success and challenges which they have discussed during the forum and witnessed during the excursion. Our expectation is that after this, participants transform to become believers and effective promoters of our environment and resources,” said Prof. Semboja.