Mary Kashumba Herald Reporter
NATIONAL Housing and Social Amenities Minister Giles Mutsekwa has urged local authorities and stakeholders to protect the
environment from effects of climate change.
Speaking at the official launch of Zimhabitat as part of World Habitat Day celebrations in Harare yesterday, Minister Mutsekwa said there was need for the world to attend to issues of rapid urbanisation, population growth and its effects on the environment.
Zimhabitat is a non-profit making organisation, which creates a platform to initiate dialogue on human settlement issues.
It lobbies for appropriate policies, standards and technologies based on stakeholders' consultations and inputs.
"Safe and just cities are engines of economic growth, hence the need to preserve and maintain a habitable environment in these cities," said Minister Mutsekwa.
"As we commemorate this day, it is important for all stakeholders involved in human settlement development to reflect on the state of cities' preparedness to deal with effects of climate change."
Minister Mutsekwa said settlements were a prerequisite for social and economic development.
He said it was important for cities to protect their valuable human resources through environmentally friendly policies and programmes that mitigate effects of climate change.
Prevention, Minister Mutsekwa said, should be addressed through better urban planning and building codes so that city residents, especially the low income groups, were protected against the disaster.
In a statement read on his behalf by United Nations Development Plan Country Director, Ms Christine Umutoni, UNDP Resident Representative Mr Alain Noudehou said the world's population was expected to grow to seven billion by the end of October.
More than half of the population would be living in towns and cities.
He said managing rapid urbanisation was one of the greatest challenges facing humankind.
Mr Noudehou said cities were centres of industrialisation and sources of emissions, but also solutions for environmental management.
He applauded the Government for setting up the Environmental Management Agency, which is tasked with monitoring and ensuring compliance with protecting the environment.
The theme for this year's commemorations was: Ã¢â‚¬ËœCities and Climate Change', with main focus being on the impact of climate change disruption on cities and what cities are doing in response.