Nature is our life support system. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines future as ‛the time that will come after the present or the events that will happen then‛. The future is diverse and uncertain. We need a world that is just and equitable for humans, wildlife and nature. A system that is better designed to meet people’s needs in today’s more democratic world. According to the U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development (UNCED), sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability can be achieved by social well-being, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. Sustainable community seeks to improved public health and a better quality of life for all its residents by limiting waste, preventing pollution, maximizing conservation and promoting efficiency, and developing local resources to revitalize the local economy. According to Hecht et al., 2012, the challenge is to meet the needs of the growing population in a way that restores and maintains the Earth’s natural resources while promoting economic prosperity.
The tension between corporate environmental responsibility and profitability has given way to a convergence between public and private sector interests. This has lead to the lost of lives of environmental activists worldwide, people who are trying to protect nature for the future of present and future generations, doing good and being looked upon as a stone on the way because of selfish reasons. Is this the kind of future we are preparing for our children?. At stake is the quality of life, not only for us but also for our children and grandchildren. With respect to the Millennium Project, 2011, the world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive. – Albert Einstein
People particularly the indigenous people should have the opportunity to share their knowledge in policy making and implementation, taking into consideration all the ecosystem services. Holistic and integrated approaches should be applied in the sustainable management of natural resources for better livelihoods for both urban and rural populations.United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi biodiversity targets and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) should be effectively implemented at all levels.The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should be achieved. Poverty is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Many people, especially the poor, depend directly on ecosystems for their livelihoods and when people are poor they cannot easily manage sustainably the natural resources. Sustainable environmental and agricultural practices should be implemented. Encourage sustainable consumption and reduce food losses and waste.Healthy and productive lives cannot be achieved unless “all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 1996). Hunger which is the lack of sufficient calories, protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which are exacerbated by poor access to clean water and hygienic human waste disposal. Today, more than 1 billion people eat enough calories but do not consume enough protein, vitamins or minerals. Undernourishment in children, especially during the first 1 000 days from conception, means they will never reach their full physical and cognitive potential (FAO, 2012). For people who are chronically hungry and malnourished, meeting their immediate needs is their paramount concern – planning for the future is often a luxury they cannot afford. Yet most of the world’s hungry people depend on agriculture, fisheries and forestry for at least part of their livelihoods, so their daily choices also help determine how the world’s natural resources are managed (FAO, 2012). Food from forests and trees provides valuable sources of protein, minerals and vitamins. The collection and sale of non-wood forest products is an important source of household income, especially for women. In the drylands and savannahs, herbs and trees are primary sources of fodder for domestic animals, medicine, food, firewood, carbon sink, etc. Forests influence the amount of water available and regulate water surface and groundwater flows while maintaining high water quality; they sequester carbon; they can be used as shelterbelts and windbreaks; and also contribute significantly towards reducing soil erosion and protecting against landslides and floods.
There is an urgent need to enhance sustainable livestock production systems, through improving pasture land, identifying and cultivating potential fodder/forage to increase the livelihood of resource poor farmers and urban populations and preventing land degradation. This will also prevent conflicts between grazers and farmers due to the poor management of the savannahs ecosystems.
Gender equality, women empowerment is vital for a sustainable development. We should also promote Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Marketing, most of the roads leading to the forest and savannah ecosystems in Africa and particularly in Central Africa are bad roads, with little or no nearby touristic facilities. Countries like Canada make a lot of income from tourism; this should also be encouraged in developing countries.
Environmental educational programmes should be carried out at local levels on how to manage our waste and reuse. Methods of waste recycle should also be put in place. Also on how to sustainably manage the ecosystems both terrestrial and aquatic. We need to encourage societies to avoid degrading the natural environment and the wealth of valuable benefits it provides, and instead promote and utilise healthy ecosystems to support a sustainable and more climate-resilient future for people around the world (UNEP, 2010).
Nature is peaceful; Adam and Eve with prehistoric people got everything free from Nature. Most people experienced time directly from the rhythms of the natural world – daylight and darkness, sun and moon, the movements of stars, and the changing seasons – and not from the number of days and hours and minutes on a calendar or clock. The sum of the choices that we make will determine the future of ourselves, children and descendants. We must save our planet, plants and animals from extinction. We should embrace peace and prudence and run away from violence and terrorism for a descent future. Together for nature we can create the future we want.
Author: Celestine Fonyikeh-Bomboh Lucha,
Assistant Lecturer/Researcher, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Science, P.O Box 67, University of Dschang. Cameroon.