Monday, 12 June 2017

Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi Defends Zimbabwe’s Attendance of Oceans Conference

Zimbabwe has as much a right as coastal states to deliberate on the state and fate of the oceans as marine environments belong to all nations, with coastal countries laying claim to only 200km of territory, Cabinet ministers have said. 

Speaking to journalists at Harare International Airport on arrival from New York where they attended the inaugural United Nations High-Level Conference on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi dismissed claims from some quarters that Zimbabwe should not have attended the Oceans Conference.

‘‘You see, what must be remembered in fact is that the countries which have got shorelines, their territorial waters only go for 200km, the rest belongs to humanity, to all countries.

“All the oceans belong to all countries of the world. The ones which have got shorelines, their territorial waters only go for 200km. After that we have as much right, as much stake as anyone else on this globe as to what happens on the high seas,” said Minister Mumbengegwi.

“They can’t just go there and dump waste, and dump all sorts of toxic materials and so on because we have a stake even though we are landlocked.
Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi Defends Zimbabwe’s Attendance of Oceans Conference
“That is where our rain comes from, that is where half of our oxygen comes from. It affects the whole world, so we have an interest, we have a stake that is why 193 countries were there,” he said.

Zimbabwe is party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which it ratified in February 1993.

To date, 165 countries, including 28 landlocked states, have ratified UNCLOS, which defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine resources.

‘‘This was a very important gathering, this was a very important summit. In fact, all the 193 members of the UN were represented at various levels, just underlining the importance. The question of the conservation of the oceans, seas and water bodies is absolutely fundamental in the survival of our planet,’’ Minister Mumbengegwi added.

He rapped the wanton pollution of marine environment saying the practice of treating seas and oceans as huge septic tanks had to stop as this had deleterious effects on the habitability of the Earth in the long run.

‘‘This whole idea of regarding the sea as one huge septic tank where you can empty all your waste must just stop because in fact it is big, it is huge but if we continue at this rate then a time will come when the sea will die and when it dies, when the oceans die, the planet will die. So this was really the main focus of the summit. It was an international conference, all the members were there,’’ he said.

Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri concurred saying it was folly to try to separate the land from the oceans as they are interrelated.

‘‘I really think it’s crazy. As I have already alluded to, 70 percent of all the Earth’s land is covered by oceans, and whatever is collected on land ends up in the oceans …’’ she said.

‘‘The seas are very critical to us because of the blue economy that they serve. We get our fish protein from the oceans, also tourism, also trade. For us it’s very critical that we keep the seas clean and away from acidification because we survive from the oceans,’’ she added.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said it was critical to appreciate that it’s very expensive for landlocked countries to trade hence they cannot divorce themselves from deliberations at the Oceans Conference.

The conference, which ran from June 5 to 9, sought to, among other things, reverse the decline in the state of the oceans and seas focusing on solutions-focused engagement by all stakeholders.

It culminated in the consensual adoption of an intergovernmental declaration dubbed ‘‘Our Oceans, Our Future: Call for Action’’, to support the implementation of SDG 14.

Source: Herald
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