President Yoweri Museveni emphasized that protecting the environment is a matter of life and death for humanity cautioning that ‘we must do all it takes to protect the environment lest we perish.’ The president was speaking as guest of honor during World Environment Day celebrations in Ibanda District on Monday.
“All those interfering with nature are doing a great disservice to themselves and will ultimately pay a heavy price. God created for us a wonderful environment to live in but by degrading it, we are going against his will. Water is our life and we should not interfere with anything to do with water or the environment.
“We have not had enough rains for the last two seasons in Uganda and experts attribute it to the attack on the environment by people who invaded wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers that contribute 40% of the rains we get and we can’t go on like that,” he added.
The President, therefore, said that government is soon amending and strengthening the environment protection law to ensure that nobody should do any activity in a radius of 50 meters from a river bank, 200 meters from a lake shore and advised all people living or practicing agriculture in wetlands and forestry reserves, to leave them peacefully.
Important for tourism
Museveni further said that protecting the environment is also important for tourism noting that the sector earns the country much more foreign exchange than most economic activities the country is engaged in.
The President, who described the environment as the genetic bank, appealed to all citizens of Uganda to prioritize environmental protection for the good of the current and future generations. He emphasized that they ought treat whoever is attacking the environment as their number one enemy.
Rain catchment areas
The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, said that wetlands, forests and water bodies are important rain catchment areas and that whoever attacked them in a country like Uganda that is largely agricultural and dependent on rainfall, must be resisted.
On behalf of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program Country Director, Ms. Rosa Malanga, said that humanity must find ways of connecting with nature, protect it, respect it and safeguard the world heritage. She commended Uganda for being one of the few countries that have put in place a legal framework to protect the environment.
The French Ambassador to Uganda, Ms. Stephanie Rivoal, noted that humanity shares the same planet and there must be a collective duty to protect it selfishly for the sake of the future generations.
She said that the planet belongs to nobody but to everybody and it is, therefore, a duty of everybody to ensure that it is safe for humanity. She appealed to developed countries who contributed greatly to climate change to take a leading role in mitigating the causes of climate change.